Mario Merz’s Early Works at Gladstone Gallery

Gladstone Gallery, in collaboration with Fondazione Merz, is pleased to present an exhibition of historic early works by Mario Merz. A leading member of Italy’s Arte Povera movement of the 1960s and 70s, Merz created paintings, sculptures, and installations with an aim to oppose a monolithic culture and to celebrate perplexity. This goal manifested itself in the artist’s deviation from the mass-media iconography popularized by Pop Art, the mythic emotionalism of Abstract Expressionism, and the machismo detachment of Minimalism. Instead, Merz and his Arte Povera contemporaries – such as Alighiero e Boetti, Luciano Fabro, and Jannis Kounellis, among others – employed simple, everyday materials and perceptive references to nature in order to ground their art in a relatable existential ambiguity.

 

The three seminal works on view in this exhibition exemplify this stratagem. Giap Igloo – If the Enemy Masses His Forces, He Looses Ground: If He Scatters, He Loses Strength (1968) represents a body of work that became an enduring motif throughout Merz’s career, since he began making igloo sculptures in 1967. Using the exterior world to create an interior space, igloos encapsulate Merz’s drive to utilize social tradition as a means for individual reflection. At once a freestanding structure, this hemisphere is rendered meaningless without an inhabitant to provide utilitarian import. The instillation of subjective weight onto the objective form of the igloo is underscored by the neon words circumscribing the dome. A quotation from General Vo Nguyen Giap of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front describing the double-bind of combat strategy, the glowing letters provide a visual tension to the cracking clay exterior, while highlighting the artist’s fascination with social mores – in this case, military and political custom.

Start Date

November 10, 2016

End Date

December 17, 2016

Hours

11:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Address

Gladstone Gallery, 515 West 24th Street, 530 West 21st Street, New York

Event Type

Public

More Information

Gladstone Gallery

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