Mario Merz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jean Bernier Gallery, Athens
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1988

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The word is theatrical; it is not as abstract as a number…The word is much more concrete.” – Mario Merz

    The mesmerizing, repetitious curves of Una lunghissima domenica, 1988, features Mario Merz’s use of unconventional materials employed in his conceptual investigations of sculpture. As a leading figure of the Arte Povera movement in the late 1960s, Merz sought to experiment with an expansive and unconventional variety of materials for his installations that challenged traditional artistic media and questioned the role of art in society. As such, Una lunghissima domenica is a striking example of the artist’s exploration ofmateriality and the relationship between art and human nature.

    Placed on an iron support and sprawling across the wire mesh, the phrase “Una lunghissima domenica” – which translates in English to “a very long Sunday” – transcribed in Merz’s signature blue neon, expresses an intriguing linguistic dynamism. Through this presentation of an indeterminate and subjective statement, the artist explores the significance of language in the human experience. Indeed, as Merz put forward, “The use of words is another way of being human…these words give [him] a sense of reality; they represent an acceptance of our presence” (Mario Merz, quoted in Mario Merz, Turin, 2003, p. 76). As words tend to have a theatrical context associated with personal recollections, the present work fosters the pondering of individual existence and self-reflection; Una lunghissima domenica embraces everyday life by summoning ruminations of pleasurable weekend languor and nostalgic recreation.

    Utilizing visual stimulation to guide the cognitive process, Merz adroitly juxtaposes disparate materials in Una lunghissima domenica: the structured wire mesh and iron supports serve as a contrastingly rigid backdrop for the delicate cursive bands of soft neon displayed in the artist’s handwriting. In this way, the energy of light is contained while remaining impactful and inescapable. The contradiction of these materials emphasizes the artist’s embrace of life’s imbalance and its importance in everyday experience. Favoring the reflection of individual journeys and finding interest in the subjectivity of experience, Una lunghissima domenica inserts itself into the human context and prompts the viewers to deliberate the source of individual associations with language.


Una lunghissima domenica

iron support, wire mesh and neon
79 1/4 x 198 1/8 x 12 1/4 in. (201.4 x 503.2 x 31 cm.)
Executed in 1988.

This work is registered with the Archivio Mario Merz under number 2244/1988/NN.

$180,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $187,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue