Mario Merz

Those who knew Mario and Marisa Merz understood that if you invited one artist, you got both. So they installed themselves for several weeks in San Gimignano, turning up together to eat lunch and sit under the trees. I sat with them often, observing Mario at close quarters. I dearly wanted to film him, but was advised against it. Marisa is totally camera phobic; Mario might not have liked it either, and he could famously be quite monstrous. But Mario was more knowing. He had already remarked that he had heard I made “beautiful films”, and I think he knew what he wanted.

So when eventually I asked, “Mario, can I film you?” he replied, “Yes, but no speaking,” and immediately sat himself in a chair under a tree, cupping a huge pine cone in his lap.

Tacita Dean