Marisa Merz, the Italian sculptor whose enigmatic and intricate sculptural arrangements was a foundational part of the impact of the Arte Povera movement in the country and around the globe, has passed away at the age of 93. Merz, the only woman associated with the vanguard movement, blazed her own path through the landscape of post-war Italy, and founded a sculptural language that is enduringly important today.
The wife of Mario Merz, Marisa was born in Turin, Italy, in 1926, but little information on her early years persists. Yet her time at home during the 1960’s marked her first experiments with simple materials, working with sheets of metal and thread to create nuanced clusters of material and subtle engagements with her family life. Merz’s work maintained a sense of intimacy and love, tenderness and the human body, that marked her work as distinct from her contemporaries, and which has made her work enduringly resonant.
She is survived by her daughter Beatrice, who heads the Fondazione Merz, and who told the NYT Style section in 2017: “I recently asked her how some of her works came about, what was the thought, inspiration, or approach behind them. She answered that she always and only did what she liked, and that every work originated from the pleasure of making it, from a spontaneous gesture or finding of a particular object or material.”