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Mario Merz

IF I CLOSE MY EYES, I can still envision my first encounter with Mario Merz in 1966 at his studio in Turin, which marked the beginning of my long friendship and collaboration with him as a fellow nomad and adventurer, a journey unbroken until his death on November 9, 2003. In the series of rooms where he worked, the artist’s triangular structures projected out from the walls and floors. Made of fabric and woven bamboo, they brought to mind the shaped canvases being produced at the time by Frank Stella and others and were splashed with red paint (as well as scorched with burn holes), evoking the history of an artist, born in 1925, who had come to maturity amid the climate of action painting and Abstract Expressionism. As a scholar of contemporary art, I had already experienced Pop art firsthand at the Venice Biennale, had known Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jim Dine, and was a

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