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L'arte povera

Marisa Merz: The Art of Making Home



Marisa Merz, Untitled, 1966. Wood and aluminum.

Marisa Merz with Living Sculpture, Turin, 1966.

What is home? Home is an environment, a metaphor that is undoubtedly relevant and universal in the context of a global pandemic. Months of lock-down and self-isolation have generated new approaches for us to inhabit intimate spaces, such as homes, but also indoor and outdoor public spaces.

With these universal, yet very personal surroundings in mind, the work of Italian artist Marisa Merz is now more than ever, an inspiration for all who re-imagine creative ways to define living spaces.

Marisa Merz (23 May 1926 – 20 July 2019) was an artist and sculptor based in Turin, Italy. Merz was the only woman associated with the Arte povera (literally translated as 'Poor Art'), which was a radical, avant-garde art movement that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s. This influential artistic development was known for elevating common, pre-industrial materials such as earth, rocks, clothing, wax and rope to artistic media. This movement was a reaction to the modernism, abstraction and dominance of industrialization and technology over the art world.

The work of Marisa Merz evokes individual memories of the past. This artist's sense of intimacy is reflected in her openly referencing her domestic life, and motherhood in her sculptures and installations. In 1966 she produced a series of aluminum “Living Sculptures” that were originally assembled in her kitchen. Along with these immersive environmental installations, she also invented functional and interactive art objects, such as a plywood swing for her daughter. The sculptures and installations were only later moved out from her home and exhibited in museums and art galleries. The creativity demonstrated by Marisa Merz in turning her house into the most playful and inspiring living space is groundbreaking and absolutely inspiring.

What is home? Home is an environment, a metaphor that is undoubtedly relevant and universal in the context of a global pandemic. Months of lock-down and self-isolation have generated new approaches for us to inhabit intimate spaces, such as homes, but also indoor and outdoor public spaces.

With these universal, yet very personal surroundings in mind, the work of Italian artist Marisa Merz is now more than ever, an inspiration for all who re-imagine creative ways to define living spac

Marisa Merz (23 May 1926 – 20 July 2019) was an artist and sculptor based in Turin, Italy. Merz was the only woman associated with the Arte povera (literally translated as 'Poor Art'), which was a radical, avant-garde art movement that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s. This influential artistic development was known for elevating common, pre-industrial materials such as earth, rocks, clothing, wax and rope to artistic media. This movement was a reaction to the modernism, abstraction and dominance of industrialization and technology over the art worl


Marisa Merz, Swing for Bea, Turin, 1968. Photograph: Paolo Pellion

Since her passing in July 2019, we continue to celebrate the work and life of Marisa Merz by engaging in a deeper reflection of one’s idea of home, intimacy and freedom. Marisa's visionary work invites us to embrace physical limitations as they are also infinite possibilities for creating new worlds.


Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space, Installation view, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, June 4–August 20, 2017. Photo: Brian Forrest

To learn more about Marisa Merz and her legacy, her daughter Beatrice created the Fondazione Merz. This foundation is dedicated to contemporary art and culture and is located in Turin, Italy. Here, exhibitions dedicated to the work of Mario and Marisa Merz, alternate with other major site-specific projects by national and international artists, who are invited to interact with the Foundation’s space and its collections.

LINK: Fondazione Merz
VIDEO: The MET - Merz Exhibition
ARTICLE: NYT - L'arte Povera


Article written by Zoe Cinel in collaboration with the ICC Editorial Team


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