Movements of the Earth and the Moon on an Axis

  • Artist: Mario Merz
  • Creation date: (2002)
  • Object type: Installation


Mario Merz is one of the premier exponents of the Italian arte povera movement. Working with objets trouvés of a “poor” quality, Merz was fascinated by the creative potential that stems from the opposing principles of nature and civilization. More than anything, however, he was interested in questions related to the fundamental needs of existence.

In 1968 Merz created his first igloo installation, which subsequently became a motif in his artistic output. What motivated this motif was the artist’s desire to create an object that was liberated both from the wall and from sculpture in a traditional sense.The result was an igloo formed as a hemisphere,which rests on the floor and creates its own space. For Merz, the igloo was the “ideal organic shape”, one that was “both a world and a small house” and “a synthesis, a complex image”. Created in endless variants throughout the years and in a host of different materials, Merz’s igloos are as transitory as those made by the nomads. Unlike these latter igloos, however, the ones made by Merz offer neither lee nor shelter, assembled as they often are from glass, rocks, twigs, clay, and sharp metals. The works refer to an archetypical abode, while also symbolizing metaphysical space, the celestial sphere, and the universe.

Merz often associated artists with nomads, who were always on the move, felt at home everywhere, and were connected to both nature and culture. The igloo became the metaphysical form that enveloped Merz’s belief in art as something ephemeral and shifting and yet inexorably bound to the Earth and the environment. He regarded a work of art as a place of residence, as the artist’s home. The igloo became his habitat.

Text: Karin Hellandsjø

From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0


Mario Merz

Born 1925, death 2003

Work info

Creation date:
Other titles:
Forskyvninger av jorden og månen på en akse (NOR)
Spostamenti della terra e della luna su un asse (ITA)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
metallstenger, glass, klemmer, kvister, leire og neon-rør
  • Diameter: 600 cm
  • Length: 1500 cm
  • Height: 300 cm
  • Width: 630 cm
Kjøpt 2004
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Complex object/artwork
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Børre Høstland/Thorkildsen, Morten
© Merz, Mario/BONO