Communion and Prophylaxis: Mario and Marisa Merz

May 1, 2021
Magazzino Da Casa

Magazzino Italian Art presents a four-part lecture series Arte Povera: Art of Collaboration curated by 2020-21 Magazzino Scholar-in-Residence Teresa Kittler. 

In the fourth lecture of the series, Communion and Prophylaxis: Mario and Marisa Merz, Dr. Leslie Cozzi, Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs at The Baltimore Museum of Art, discusses the early sculpture and later work on paper of Mario Merz and Marisa Merz, lynchpins of the Turinese Arte Povera milieu. By analysing individual works in light of contemporary geopolitics, developments in Italian feminism, and the new domestic landscape of the period, the talk will explore how together the husband-and-wife pair engaged in a dialectic that enabled them to respond productively to one another’s practices while still maintaining their individual points of view. Paying particular attention to the problematic of separatism and the professional challenges facing women artists in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, the talk will offer a new reading that recasts Marisa Merz’s well-documented interest in alchemy and communion in terms of contemporary developments in reproductive health technology.

About Leslie Cozzi

Leslie Cozzi is the Associate Curator for Prints, Drawings & Photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She was the 2017-2018 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/National Endowment for the Humanities Post-Doctoral Rome Prize Winner in Modern Italian Studies at the American Academy in Rome, where she was at work on a manuscript about gender and sexuality in post-war and contemporary Italian art. Previously, she served as the Curatorial Associate at the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum. In that capacity, she was responsible for research and daily management of various collections the museum oversees, including the Armand Hammer Permanent Collection, the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, and the Grunwald Center’s extensive collection of works on paper. She helped organize several recent exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, including William E. Jones: Imitation of ChristForrest Bess: Seeing Things InvisibleTea and Morphine: Women in Paris, 1880-1914Robert Heinecken: Object Matter; Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now; The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris; and Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space. Leslie received her BA in 2003 from Yale University, where she was awarded Distinction in the History of Art and the A. Conger Goodyear Senior Essay Prize. She received her PhD in 2012 from the University of Virginia. She was awarded a 2010-2011 Fulbright Fellowship to conduct research in Italy for her dissertation, “Protagonismo e non: Mirella Bentivoglio, Carla Accardi, Carla Lonzi, and the Art of Italian Feminism in the 1960s and 1970s.” Leslie has contributed to several exhibition catalogues, including most recently Marisa Merz: The Sky Is a Great Space; the Menil Collection’s publication of Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to Now, and the Pomona College Museum of Art’s exhibition catalogue for Pages: Mirella Bentivoglio, Selected Works, 1966-2012. She has contributed to scholarly journals and anthologies and to artforum.com.