Che Fare?, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Galerie Lelong
Jannis Kounellis responded to the alienation of contemporary society in Europe by creating environments in which spectacle and grief comingle. In order to communicate this, he used industrial and organic elements in his installations, paintings, and sculptures, such as coal, burlap sacks, coffee, metal, and live animals. Such materials are reminiscent of his surroundings as a youth in the harbor town of Piraeus, Greece. Kounellis chose the mixed element work Untitled (1993-94) to "converse" with Fabro's Inverno for a recent exhibition. His extended metal base mirrors Fabro's dense, marble form. The slender, metal beam balanced on bags of coal elicits a similar feeling of imminent collapse. Coal, signifying carbon and fire, is often a component in his work. It is also utilized as a repeating element in the monumental wall relief, Untitled (1991).
Mario Merz explored the concrete and the abstract through mathematics. He was fascinated with the Fibonacci sequence, a naturally occurring progression of numbers. Merz explored this sequence in his signature igloo works composed of a wide range of materials, from neon tubing to pinecones, such as in La casa del giardiniere (1983-84). By using these diverse materials and a pattern that occurs in the natural environment, Merz sought to infuse his works with energy. The large, vibrant work Untitled (1978) merges painting and sculpture by presenting spirals and Fibonacci numbers on a canvas held up by an easel.
Fabro, Kounellis, and Merz broke down the barriers between art and life, radically defying Modernist tradition and forging the way for future generations to bring social awareness and contemporary life into their creative practice. Although they emerged in the 1960s, Fabro, Kounellis, and Merz's art continues to influence artists working today who reject the institution of art by shunning convention, commercialism, or art world establishments.
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Pictured: Luciano Fabro, Inverno, 2007
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