The term Arte Poverarefers to a group of Italian artists working in the late 1960s and early 1970s that employed humble materials and distinctly anti-elitist attitudes toward art-making. One of the founding members of this movement, Mario Merz’s work often juxtaposes industrial and organic materials to call attention to the contrast between man and nature. The current exhibition at the Arts Club of Chicago includes seven installations by the Italian artist, created between 1968 and 1985. A highlight of the show, “Senza titolo (Untitled),” 1971, is composed of neon tubing formed into numbers, invoking the Fibonacci sequence of progression (a numeric sequence in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers, e.g. one, one, two, three, five). Significant to Merz was the notion that this formula could articulate the structure of the universe. “Senza titolo” appears formally simple (relative to Merz’s other works shown here) yet it is able to evoke the complexity of both technology and nature in a beautifully concise manner. (Kristin Brockman)
Through April 11 at the Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario.