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For ‘Città irreale’ Mario Merz covered a triangular metal frame with mesh to which he applied a layer of beeswax. Two blue lines and the words ‘città irreale’ – written in neon tubing – flash through the work like a lightning bolt. Merz frequently used neon light in his art, as if wanting to charge his work with energy. When switched on, the neon tubing warms the wax, filling the air with the scent of beeswax. The Italian artist Mario Merz was a leading figure of Arte Povera, an art movement that took a conceptual approach to combining natural elements with throwaway materials. Their philosophy was to link art with everyday life, culture and nature. ‘Città irreale’ means: unreal city. Merz explained this as follows: ‘It means that the city is unreal, our cities are unreal and suspended in a vacuum.’ This early work by Merz was acquired after the 1969 exhibition ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ staged at the Stedelijk Museum.
c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Translated title

Unreal City



Production date



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250 x 145 x 24cm.


metal, synthetic gauze, beeswax, neon

Object number

BA 2624(1-2)


gerestaureerd met financiële steun van de deelnemers van de BankGiro Loterij / restored with the generous support of the participants of the BankGiro Loterij

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