Mario Merz’s Motivi of the early 1990s comprise a rare series of works on paper by the Italian artist. They include a number of imagistic themes or motifs that are typical of the artist’s oeuvre. The most notable of these motifs is the spiral, associated with the domed form of the igloo, which Merz associated with nomadic living. The motif is also associated with the Fibonacci series and patterns of natural growth. Developed in the 13th century by Leonardo da Pisa, known as Fibonacci, each number in the series is the sum of the two preceding numbers in the progression: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. Associated with organic development and cosmic dimensions, the Fibonacci series for Merz became a compositional and symbolic system associated with infinite growth. While the ovoid forms are all the same size across the series, they nevertheless suggest motifs that range from the infinitesimal to the cosmic in scale. They seem to be at once microscopic organisms and planets in faraway universes. The series aligns with Arte Povera’s turn to nature, its integration of art and life, and interest in the infinite.


  • Title: 10 MOTIVI - N. 1
  • Creator: Mario Merz
  • Creator Lifespan: (1925 – 2003)
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Date Created: 1993
  • Physical Dimensions: h 81, w 110 cm
  • Rights: Courtesy Magazzino Italian Art Foundation
  • Medium: Etching, aquatint on paper

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