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from 08 May 2015 to 22 November 2015
Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia

Mario Merz. Città Irreale

Press Release

Under the joint auspices of the Veneto Regional Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism, Erilde Terenzoni, and the Veneto [Regional] Director of Museums, Daniel Ferrara, the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice are launching a new exhibition: "Mario Merz – Città irreale [Unreal City]". This exhibition inaugurates the new spaces designed to house temporary exhibitions at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, marking the first occasion on which they will open their doors to the public. After major restoration work lasting some ten years, the newly extended Gallerie dell'Accademia have now doubled their exhibition space and added to the great wealth of culture they have to offer with a significant increase in the number of works on display in the permanent collection – visitors will in fact soon be able to navigate through a selection of over 500 works – and with the ability to host events and exhibitions of ancient and contemporary art.

Mario Merz – Città Irreale [Unreal City] takes place from 8th May until 20th September, 2015, in conjunction with the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale and with Milan Expo 2015. The exhibition has been sponsored by Giovanna Damiani, former Superintendent for the Historic and Artistic Heritage of Venice and for the Museums of the city of Venice and the municipalities of the Gronda lagunare (the area between the lagoon and the mainland), during her tenure in Venice, and it is curated by Bartholomew Pietromarchi, in collaboration with the Merz Foundation and organized by MondoMostre. It is the first exhibition of Merz's work to be held in any public institution in Italy since the artist's death and since the major retrospective of his work organised in 2005 by Castello di Rivoli, GAM and the Merz Foundation (Turin), and it brings contemporary art to the new spaces of the great Gallerie dell'Accademia for the first time.

Città irreale [Unreal City] pays tribute to the work of Mario Merz, one of the most important figures of the international art scene of the late twentieth century, as evidenced by his numerous appearances at the Venice Biennale, at Documenta on several occasions and at the great 1989 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York – the first Italian artist ever to have a solo show in that venue. The present exhibition traces the career of an artist of the Arte Povera movement who was distinguished from the first for his critical depth and extraordinary poetic scope, and its very title confirms it as the master's ideal homage to Venice – the unreal city par excellence, and a surreal, metaphysical place where nature and culture come together in perfect synthesis.

The exhibition will have a particular focus on exploring the issue of space in relation to Merz's artistic research, as it has developed over time: from individual everyday objects to the dimensions of the space one inhabits and so to the idea of habitats, from our collective and urban space up to space on a cosmic and cosmological scale. The individual perspective expands and broadens out in his work to become a collective one, both natural and artificial, and Merz's works become a symbol of the negotiation [constantly in play] between our living experience and our natural and architectural context. The works on display reveal an ethical and poetic tension, suggesting the idea of a shared and participatory society in which the balance between nature and culture, tradition and innovation, finds its synthesis in the energy of these constantly clashing elements.

In Merz's installations, the artist goes beyond traditional categories to occupy an environment and make use of objects taken from everyday reality, combining natural and ephemeral materials with urban and industrial elements, integrating references to a contemporary context and welcoming the demands of the natural landscape and the dynamics of organic growth. There are strong similarities between the issues Merz explores and those raised at EXPO Milano 2015: "Feeding the planet - Energy for Life". This is an ideal context in which to revisit and reintroduce the extraordinary contemporary relevance of Merz’s poetic message.