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Born: 1931, Turin, Italy
Lives and Works: Turin
Marisa Merz's sculptures explore the phenomenological boundaries between form and formlessness, between interior and exterior states of being. For nearly forty years, she has created handmade sculptures, installations, drawings, and performances that quietly and intimately embrace the dichotomy between the mystical and tangible elements of our existence. Her literal use of such substances as wax, clay, salt, yarn, and various metals (copper, steel, aluminum, gold) as well as a range of found objects that includes twigs, furniture, knitting needles, and blankets places the notion of materiality at the center of her work. From 1965 to 1966, in the Turin home she shared with her husband and fellow artist, Mario Merz, the artist made Untitled (Living Sculpture). This suspended, spectacular arrangement of twisting, tubular slabs of aluminum extends aggressively into the viewer's space. Evocative of an underwater cornucopia of shiny mollusk shells and jellyfish tendrils, the sculpture has been described as a "primordial entanglement."