New York

Mario Merz

Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery

Mario Merz’s humor is utterly unmuzzled. Try as hard as you can, it’s impossible to maintain a straight face at his exhibition. I’m a pretty cheap laugh, but Merz’s expansive pranks have an infectious silliness that could ruffle the soberest feathers. Take, for example, his gestural rendering of vegetables on an unstretched length of raw canvas: he attached actual raw vegetables to it; radishes, horseradishes, cabbages, celery, cauliflower and escarole seemingly grew out of Merz’ painted depictions of them. Raw vegetables for raw canvas: the collision of macrobiotics with trompe l’oeil.

If Merz has a theme to his work, it must be playfulness. He proposes some modular architecture for the ice-age: extraterrestrial-looking igloos made with plate glass clamped onto the jungle-gym-like armatures. I once saw an Argentine movie called Hunger for Love where a group of disaffected would-be radicals

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