Artwork of the month June

Mario Merz. Spirale di cera, 1970/81

Mario Merz

* 1925 in Milan, † 2003 in Milan

Spirale di cera, 1970/81

Height 6.5 cm, Ø 7.12 m
LSK 00.50

As a young man, Mario Merz, one of the main exponents of the Italien Arte povera movement, found his subject matter in the natural world. However, instead of describing its phenomena, he sought to capture the intensity he experienced. One evocative concept adopted by Merz was the Fibonacci sequence. Known since mediaeval times, it occurs in various organisational structures in nature – for instance, in the reproduction of some animals, in pinecones and in sunflowers.

The Spirale di cera is based on a 1970 idea by Mario Merz for a planned, but unrealised solo exhibition at the Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld – a villa designed by Mies van der Rohe for the silk manufacturer Hermann Lange where he wanted to make a site-specific work, an object that would be entirely integrated with the building. Merz took as his starting point the rectilinear floor plan of the building, based on a geometric central point from which a spiral developed in circles according to the Fibonacci sequence. The envisaged result was a spiral progression based on the numbers 0 1 1 2 3 5 8. The spiral should not only penetrate the walls, but extend into the garden.

According to his interpretation of the Fibonacci sequence as a parameter of natural, organic growth, he confronts two contradictory systems: nature and modernist architecture. The natural, organic form embodying growth and movement contrasts with the stringency of the architectural form, generating an image of centred concentration. The work was not actually realised until 1981, on the occasion of the exhibition Arbeiten um 1968. Kounellis, Merz, Nauman, Serra – albeit even then on a smaller scale, with the wax spiral penetrating the walls at only one point.

<b>Mario Merz. Spirale di cera, 1970/81</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.