Call Deadline: December 13, 2019
Coming of age in Italy in the turbulence of the 1960s, Marisa Merz (1926–2019) occupies a unique and pivotal position in the history of post-war Italian art. Following her first solo exhibition at Turin’s Gian Enzo Sperone Gallery in 1967, she participated as the only woman artist in exhibitions later associated with Arte Povera—a term coined by curator Germano Celant to describe a rising ‘guerrilla’ art movement made up of artists whose work emphasized process and the use of unconventional materials in an attempt to connect art and life. Imbuing the ordinary with redemptive and revelatory qualities, Merz’s sculptures, paintings, and drawings characteristically employ malleable materials like copper wire, wax, and unfired clay. For many years, Merz refrained from dating her artwork and presenting it in traditional exhibition settings. This selective participation marginalized the artist from inclusion in the larger art system, further propelled by the ways in which that same system centered on the work of men. As can be inferred, Merz held a debatable position amongst her Arte Povera contemporaries as she developed a singular practice that reflects a continuous exploration of the tensions between the domestic and the public – describing her work as lavoro di casa (housework) – as well as the spiritual and the profane – harkening back to Italian inter-war trends like the antigrazioso(anti-graceful) forms of the Futurists and the rarefied atmospheres of the ritorno all’ordine(return to order) movement.
Today, Merz’s oeuvre has received international acclaim, beginning with a solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1994 and, more recently, a retrospective that travelled from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2017. Currently on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Artis a gallery dedicated to the artist’s work across several decades.
In conjunction with this presentation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting The Production of the Self: Marisa Merz Study Day & Workshop on Friday, 24 April 2020 from 10:00 AM –5:00 PM, which will include invited speaker presentations as well as round-table discussions, preceded by a Keynote Public Lecture on Thursday, April 23. Organized by Dr. Lara Demori, The Marcello Rumma Fellow in Contemporary Italian Art and Amanda Sroka, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, this Study Day not only pays homage to Merz’s life and legacy, but it also aims to discuss aspects of the artist’s practice often overlooked by scholarly criticism.
Call for Papers
Deadline: December 13, 2019
All abstracts should be submitted in either PDF or Microsoft Word format to Lara.Demori@philamuseum.org by Friday, December 13, 2019 and will be notified of participation by December 31, 2019. For complete details see the flyer here.