Mario Merz

Che Fare? (1968 - 1973)

About this artwork

Mario Merz’s experimental use of materials led him to combine complex elements, making works that bring together neon lights with everyday utilitarian objects. In this work, the words ‘che fare?’ in turquoise neon script resembling handwriting lie on a pot of wax that melts and bubbles under the heat of the neon. ‘Che fare?’ translates from the Italian as ‘what is to be done?’; the question is taken from the title of a political pamphlet produced by the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in 1902. Lenin’s text is often understood to represent a call to form a Marxist party, promoting Marxism within the working classes. Merz became strongly politically motivated after the end of the Second World War, when he joined an anti-fascist organisation.

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  • title: Che Fare?
  • accession number: AR00598
  • artist: Mario MerzItalian (1925 - 2003)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Sculpture
  • medium: Aluminium
  • date created: 1968 - 1973
  • measurements: 125.00 x 66.80 x 19.10 cm (2.8 kg)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
  • copyright: © Collezione Privata, Torino
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Mario Merz

Mario Merz

Merz belonged to the generation of artists that emerged in the wake of World War II, who exposed traditional painting and sculpture to a new range of mediums and forms. Born in Milan, he was a major figure in the ‘Arte Povera’ movement and his work is characterised by a close connection with nature. Using familiar and humble materials, Merz often juxtaposed the organic and inorganic, exploring experiences of life and humanity. Ideas regarding infinity and repetition are also central to his work and he is perhaps most famous for his igloo constructions and his fascination with the Fibonacci sequence (the mathematical formula for growth patterns found in many forms of life).