press release

Gladstone Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Marisa Merz. A major figure in the Arte Povera movement of the 1960s and 70s, Marisa Merz’s lyrical works entangle the viewer into a poetic intimacy. In her drawings, ceramics, and sculptures of wire and fabric, delicate abstractions emerge to create spaces of female subjectivity. Within, curious figures oft appear as heads straining heavenward, their features materializing from intricate mazes of line and molded clay.

The reoccurring material on which her oeuvre is dependent could be seen as Merz’s own consciousness; as she has said, “There has never been any division between my life and my work.” Refashioning the labyrinth of her own intimate thoughts and her relationships with husband Mario Merz and daughter in common means, ties her art to the founding tenets of Arte Povera which favored ordinary and organic materials in an effort to subvert the elite status of the art object and rethink the role of process.

Through focusing on her own subjectivity and using craft techniques to ground her fanciful works in the infinite possibilities of the everyday, Merz advanced a critical framework drawing on traditional customs associated with female domesticity. Her work is not just made in her home, but rather creates that sphere necessary for her exploration. In a new series of works on paper, Merz has applied layers of gold leaf, reminiscent of the net-like constructions she created out of woven threads, from which her brood of extraordinary doppelgangers emerge. Recalling Byzantine mosaics, the attenuated and abstracted features become more humanistic portraits than realistic. Merz’s meticulous mark-making reflects directly the gestures of her psyche, inviting each viewer into the inner spaces of her life.

Marisa Merz was born in 1931 in Turin, Italy. She continues to live in and work in both Turin and Milan. Merz’s solo exhibitions include the Museé National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; and the Villa delle Rose, Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Bologna. Selected group exhibitions include the Guggenheim Museum, New York, "The Italian Metamorphosis,1943-1968"; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, “Die italienische Metamorphose, 1943-1968”; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, "Zeitlos"; the 1988 Biennale di Venice; P.S.1., New York, "The KNOT Arte Povera at P.S.1"; Kunsthaus Zürich, "Spuren, Skulpturen, und Monumente ihrer praezisen Reise"; and "Documenta 7", Kassel. In 2001 she was awarded the Biennale di Venezia award for her lifetime contribution.

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Marisa Merz
Upstairs Gallery
Beginning October 7th 2006