The exhibition includes 200 drawings by the artist done over a span of fifty years, from 1951 to 2003.
Drawing is the starting point for Mario Merz’s work. As he himself relates: “I’m the boy that used to go out into the fields hoping to bring home a drawing without having to imitate nineteenth-century landscape. The boy who drew the feelings that nature inspired.”
Refusing everything final and interpreting his own work as a sketch, Merz sees drawing as being the most suitable means, as well as the most intimate.
“He was always reluctant to show his drawings because they were virtually his life companions,” explains Dieter Schwarz, director of the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, “and they were the nucleus of the work that he wished in some way to conserve. Drawing is the thought process that accompanies the artist through his work.” Indeed, all the themes that have appeared regularly in his research can be found in his drawings: the igloo, the Fibonacci sequence, the cone and the development of the spiral, alongside primordial animals such as reptiles and snails.
Large and small, the drawings change style according to theme and phase. The exhibition follows the development of Merz’s output, from the early drawings of 1951, in pastel-charcoal, to the most recent works of 2003, in which the artist preferred to use black and white, seemingly taking up the language he had begun with.
While his paintings and installations are present in the most important collections of contemporary art in the world, it has always been difficult to see his drawings. For the first time after his death, this exhibition documents one of the fundamental aspects of his work.
The variety and nature of these works make Mario Merz one of the greatest of post-war draughtsmen.