• gerard van weyenbergh

Homage to Arte Povera icons Marisa and Mario Merz

The exhibition, which celebrates the ties that united two major Arte Povera artists, was conceived from Untitled, a work by Mario Merz produced in 1985 in Geneva and donated to the Museum of Art and History the next year.

Mario Merz (1925-2003), Table for Marisa , 2003, glass, wood, Plexiglas, clay, marble, gold leaf, plastic, 450 x 270 x 280 cm.

© Collezione Merz / Photo S. d'Exéa

This monumental installation, symbolic of the artist's production, is presented for the occasion in the basement of the Rath Museum, while the other pieces occupy the three large naves on the ground floor.

Produced in close collaboration with the Merz Foundation , this minimalist exhibition presents around ten works that testify to the great artistic and intellectual proximity of the two artists.

In one of the naves, more particularly devoted to the work of Mario Merz , runs with Igloo de Marisa, a historical installation created in 1972 for the famous documenta V in Kassel, and Table pour Marisa(2003), one of the last works produced by the artist and for which he asked his wife to create a sculpture. This piece, which offers a face-to-face encounter between an iron point frozen in the glass table by Mario and a very fine granite head made by Marisa, could be interpreted, in the same way as the whole exhibition, as "a form of self-portrait with four hands" to use the words of Samuel Gross, curator.

On the other side of the building, in the nave which is more interested in Marisa's work, there is also a historical work, thought up in 1988 for the Venice Biennale : a set of heads sculpted in various materials, presented on their original wooden bases, of different sizes. Facing two large complex drawings from the 1990s, a magnificent artwork created in 2002 unfolds. Invited for a personal exhibition at the Marian Goodman Gallery in Paris, Marisa asked Mario to create a glass table that would support about fifteen sculpted heads. . This spiral installation overflows here from one nave to the other, as if to contaminate the space and materialize the relationship between the two artists.

At the end of the central nave, where this work continues to unfold, is reconstituted an enigmatic hanging of large raw drawings by Mario associated with a smaller drawing by Marisa, discovered in the couple's apartment when Marisa died in 2019.

This magnificent exhibition, both minimalist and deliberately fragmentary, is a very fine tribute to this emblematic couple of one of the major artistic movements of the 20th century. It subtly reveals the dynamics of mutual influence that have been real drivers for their respective works, here (finally!) placed on an equal footing.

"Marisa & Mario Merz",

Rath Museum, place Neuve, Geneva (Switzerland), www.mahmah.ch

seen in Le Journal des arts, Anne Charlotte Michaut