ascona

Mario Merz

Museo Comunale d'Arte Moderna

Some months ago I accompanied Mario Merz to see an exhibition of the work of Savoldo, a 16th-century painter of the Scuola Veneta. Upon our return, while we were discussing the paintings, Merz spoke to me about the “mysterious simplification” of contemporary art: “We don’t know why we have ended up with this simplification, but we do know that it isn’t tied to the story of society. It is a mystery. The paintings of Dürer, of Titian are rich in narrative content and this is one reason they are well received.”

In Merz’s works, this mysterious simplification doesn’t lie in the telling, but in the way he makes it possible for one to perceive a form’s growth in space. It is a space that contains history, but that is not separate from the everyday flow of life; Merz indicates a form in order to interfere with society, not to describe it.

The exhibition can be understood as the third stage of a

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1990 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.