Mario Merz “Igloo” is an incredible overview of the artist iconic masterpieces at Hangar Bicocca. The exhibition is inspired on the solo show curated by Harald Szeemann in Kunsthaus Zurig in 1985 where 20 igloos by Arte povera master were recreating a sort of village. In the Milanese show there are 30 igloos set in the massive space of the Hangar in chronological order.The artworks are coming from the most important collections in the world and represent the journey of the artist in the dissection and recreation of the idea of Igloo as a nest, a house, a refuge and a mental state.
Mario Merz ( 1925 _2003) was a leading figure in Arte Povera movement ( literally “poor art”) , one of the most influential avant garde in Italy in the 1960 most recognizable for its commonplace and mundane materials.
Mario Merz started constructing igloos in 1968 and developed the idea thereafter, creating increasingly bigger and often structurally more complicated igloos. He has created dozens of different versions, incorporating materials as diverse as metal, glass, slate, cloth, earth, neon lights, wood, putty, fruit, paint, wax and even an antelope’s head. In 1971 the artist described the igloo as ‘the ideal organic shape both a world and a small house a synthesis, a complex image’, adding, ‘I thoroughly torment the elementary image of an igloo, which I carry inside myself’ (quoted in Celant, pp.25, 27).
Merz’s igloos are primitive forms of shelter and habitation. Both self-contained worlds and small houses, they attempt to answer the artist’s own questions: ‘is space straight or curved? Do houses move round you or do you move round houses? What does making a house mean?’ (quoted in Marlis Grüterich, ‘Mario Merz’, Data, no.21, May-June 1976, pp.45-6).
A signature piece and an archetypal object for Merz, the igloo has been described by art historian Zdenek Felix as ‘a clue to one of the oldest building forms of mankind – the house of nomads. One can consider it a mental living place and refuge, as a place of encounter and communication or as a cupola – and in that, as an archaic parable of the universe’ (Zdenek Felix, ‘Crocodiles, Owls and Numbers. Mario Merz’s Painting’, in Danilo Eccher, p.82).
Mario Merz, Igloos, is on view at Hangar Bicocca from 24.10.2018 to 24-02.2019