Press Release

Pirelli HangarBicocca presents Igloos, a show by Arte Povera pioneer Mario Merz (Milan, 1925–2003), bringing together in an unprecedented gathering his most iconic group of works: the igloos, dating from 1968 until the end of his life.

Curated by Vicente Todolí, Artistic Director of Pirelli HangarBicocca, and realized in collaboration with Fondazione Merz, the exhibition is hosted in the Navate space of Pirelli HangarBicocca, placing the visitor at the heart of a constellation of over 30 large-scale works in the shape of an igloo: a landscape of great visual impact.



International exhibitions

International Archives 2nd half of 2018

Mario Merz, Igloos

Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan (Italy)

25.10.2018 - 24.02.2019




Mario Merz, Igloos, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2018. All Rights Reserved

Mario Merz, exhibition view, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1985. Courtesy Getty Research Institute  (2011.M.30). Photo: Balthasar Burkhard.  © Mario Merz, by SIAE 2018.

Mario Merz, exhibition view, Kunsthaus Zürich, 1985. Courtesy Getty Research Institute  (2011.M.30). Photo: Balthasar Burkhard.  © Mario Merz, by SIAE 2018.

Through this group of works, the exhibition reveals the most innovative aspects and themes of Merz’s research, inserting it within the international contemporary artistic panorama of the last 50 years, through the use of natural and industrial materials, the poetic and evocative deployment of the written word and the dialog with the surrounding space and architecture.

Vicente Todolí said, “As its starting point, the exhibition Igloos takes Mario Merz’s solo show curated by Harald Szeemann in 1985 at the Kunsthaus in Zurich, where all the types of igloos produced up until that point were brought together to be arranged 'as a village, a town, a "Città irreale" in the large exhibition hall,' as Szeemann states. Our exhibition at Pirelli HangarBicocca will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-live that experience (but expanded from 17 to more than 30 igloos) created by one of the most important artists of the post-war generation.”

Mario Merz’s practice developed in Turin from the ’50s onwards. A key figure of Arte Povera, he was one of the very first in Italy to use the installation medium, breaking through the two-dimensional nature of the picture by including neon tubes in his canvases and in everyday objects, such as umbrellas and glasses.

Through his work, he investigates and represents the processes of transformation of nature and human life, using elements from the scientific-mathematical field, such as the spiral and the Fibonacci sequence, and, from 1968, introducing what would remain one of the recurring and most representative motifs of his practice for more than 30 years: the igloo.

These works, visually traceable to primordial habitations, become for the artist the archetype of inhabited places and of the world, as well as a metaphor for the various relationships between interior and exterior, between physical and conceptual space, between individuality and collectivity. His igloos are characterized by a metallic structure coated in a great variety of common materials, such as clay, glass, stone, jute, and steel—often leaning or intertwined in an unstable fashion—and by the use of neon elements and wording.

Fifty years since the creation of the first igloo, the exhibition provides an overview of Mario Merz’s work, of its historical importance and great innovative reach. Gathered from numerous private collections and international museums, including the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Tate in London, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Wolfsburg and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, the igloos will be displayed together in such a large number for the first time.


The show will be accompanied by a catalog, published by Mousse Publishing, featuring detailed photographic documentation of the exhibition, as well as contributions from Germano Celant, Lisa Le Feuvre and Pietro Rigolo, and entries on all the works on display.

Exhibition October 25,  2018 - February 24, 2019. Pirelli HangarBicocca ,Via Chiese, 2 - 20126 Milan (Italie). Tél.: +39 02 6611 1573. Hours: Thu-Sun 10:00 - 22:00.