Mario Merz (b. 1925)
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Mario Merz (b. 1925)

I giganti boscaiuoli (The giant woodsmen)

Mario Merz (b. 1925)
I giganti boscaiuoli (The giant woodsmen)
oil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas with neon
overall: 98 x 230in. (249 x 584.2cm.)
Executed in 1981-82
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1982.
Sperone Westwater, Mario Merz, Selected Works 1967-1982, New York 1995 (illustrated in colour).
New York, Sperone Westwater Fischer, Mario Merz: Prehistoric Winds from Icy Mountains, January-February 1982.
Essen, Musem Folkwang, Mario Merz, May-July 1982, (illustrated in colour pp. 16-17). This exhibition later travelled to Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, August-September 1982.
London, Anthony D'Offay Gallery, Mario Merz, February-March 1983.
Champaign, Krannert Art Museum, New Paintings, February-November 1984.
Chicago, Cultural Center of the Chicago Public Library, Contemporary Italian Masters, June-September 1984.
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Mario Merz: A Retrospective, September-November 1989, no. 148 (illustrated p. 204)
Prato, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Mario Merz: Lo spazio e curvo o diritto, May-September 1990.
New York, Sperone Westwater, Mario Merz: Master Works, January- February 1992.
Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art, Metafores del real, November 1995-February 1996.
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

"Imagination is something that exists. If you can picture the imagination as a real magnetism, with real magnetic waves, then you will find yourself beginning to believe in its power. One has to invent one's invention. If art will invent itself for itself, then it can react even to the turbulence of the history of man - not for being distracted, but by the power of imagination. Art is discernible rather by the imagination in it than by its distraction." Mario Merz, 1981.

The series of large one-man exhibitions that Mario Merz arranged in Essen, London, Eindhoven, Basel and Paris between 1978 and 1981 presented to the public a completely regenerated repertoire. It was as if Merz had once again questioned the world with his 1968 statement Che fare? (What is to be done?), but this time, rather than rejecting it out of hand, Merz's art expressed a renewed and widened conception of painting.
Making a powerful and yet peculiar comeback as part of Merz's vocabulary, massive paintings, left unstretched and loosely worked, were combined with 'Merzian' raw materials or neon lights to depict a whole bestiary of reptiles, mammals and primitive objects.
In Il giganti boscaiuoli (The Giant Woodsman), one of these complex new works, Merz has unleashed his primitive iconography by juxtaposing the iconic motif of the spear with stylised legs on a primordial cone. The style of the work also refers to primitive techniques such as those seen in tribal body art and in aboriginal paintings. Yet the work does not refer to a specific culture but evokes a collective memory of myth and combines the primal forces of nature with technical progress.
The neon light is a seminal component in the artist's formal vocabulary, as both a luminous effect and a transforming element. As early as 1966, Merz used neon to pierce objects and here, in Il giganti boscaiuoli, the artist literally spears the canvas metaphorically injecting it with a jet of purifying energy.


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