“I wanted to portray the violent transformation of nature in the European periphery. I have experienced that the concept of wilderness, and virgin land untouched by humans, has disintegrated.” –Helene Schmitz
Marisa Merz was an Italian artist best known for her contributions to the Arte Povera movement as the sole female member of the group. Working with both traditional and non-traditional materials, the artist’s works often blur the categorization of domestic objects – blankets, bowls of salt, and boots – with art objects, such as sculpted heads and painted angels. “There has never been any division between my life and my work,” the artist once said.
Born in Turin, Italy in 1926, she met and married the artist Mario Merz during the 1950s. In 1965, she began producing her own works. Over the following decades, the artist combined objects and situations from her daily life with sculpture, painting, and installation, producing a swing for her daughter, props for her husband’s performances, and hanging mobiles for the kitchen. She was 90 years old when she first received a solo museum exhibition, Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space, staged at The Met Breuer in 2017. “An occasion that might have seemed a revisionist historical footnote turns out to be more like the best saved for last,” the art critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in the New Yorker about the long-overdue exhibition. Today, her works are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin, among others.
She helped to establish Fondazione Merz. Marisa Merz died on July 19, 2019 at the age of 93.