Tacita Dean: 'Mario Merz'

6 September – 4 December 2011

Exhibition in Gallery 4

Dean's work is concerned with the sculptural properties of light and space, which she explores through drawing, film and sound.

This study of the artist Mario Merz complements the exhibition Mario Merz: What Is to Be Done? showing in Galleries 1, 2 and 3 until 30 October 2011. The film is accompanied by 'Blind Pan (five monochrome landscapes)', a set of five drawings made by Tacita Dean in 2004 that are part of the Leeds Museums and Galleries sculpture collection, which is managed in partnership with the Institute.

Tacita Dean is one of Britain's most significant artists. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998, and in Autumn 2011 she will fill Tate Modern's Turbine Hall with a new work, the twelfth in the prestigious Unilever series of commissions. In 1997 her work was shown in At One Remove, the first contemporary group exhibition to be mounted at the Institute.

As well as making films, Dean works with sound, photography and drawing to navigate interpretations and narratives of history.

'Mario Merz'

'Mario Merz' was made in San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy where Dean was invited to a residency in summer 2002. Dean's film is a study of the ageing artist in the last year of his life. Merz is observed sitting in silence under a tree, a large pinecone in his hand. The film is ostensibly a portrait, but more importantly is a study of light in space and form in nature - central concerns in Merz's sculptural investigations.

Using static shots and minimal movement, Dean's films work from observation, rather than depiction. Her approach to filmmaking is decidedly sculptural: she presents objects in space, fascinated by how light and time inform perception, harnessing silence to study how a particular location, individual or event is located within space and time, reworked through the telling, and mis-telling, of history.

Following this portrait of Merz, Dean created portraits of the artists Cy Twombly, Claes Oldenburg, choreographer Merce Cunningham and, through traces of processes in the studio, Giorgio Morandi and Marcel Broodthaers. Each film examines approaches to looking, using the methodologies of the artists' own practices.

'Blind Pan'

Outside Gallery 4, where 'Mario Merz' is being shown, a set of drawings from 2004 titled 'Blind Pan (five monochrome landscapes)' are displayed. A found black and white photograph of an unidentified landscape is the backdrop for directions that map out a journey.

Written by hand by the artist, as if chalk on a blackboard, the filmic instructions narrate the journey of Oedipus and Antigone through the wilderness in a storyboard for an unmade film.


Tacita Dean was born in 1965 in Canterbury, Kent. After graduating from Falmouth School of Art she studied in Athens for a year before completing her postgraduate degree at The Slade School of Fine Art in London. She is one of the Young British Artists, and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998.

She has had many solo exhibitions, including Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (1997); ICA, Philadelphia, with US tour (1998); Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel (2000), MACBA, Barcelona (2001) and has recently been commissioned by Tate Modern to create the next installation in the Turbine Hall.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 1 - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

Comments (0)

All posts are reactively-moderated