Mario Merz is one of the artists of the Italian arte povera movement, which manifested itself around 1965 in Milan and Turin. Many of the arte povera artists regard nature as the most important source for their work. The central theme in the work of Merz is contemporary man and his – lost – relationship with nature. In his often complex installations, the same symbols appear time and again: the table, the spiral, the Fibonacci series (a special series of numbers) and the igloo.
Merz regards the igloo as a metaphor, a symbol of a sheltered spot, a home in which people live together as equals, a prototype of habitation from a time when people still lived in harmony with nature. It is ‘a house between time and space’, a ‘mythical hut’ and a ‘home for nomads’.
The artist always builds his igloos based on a construction of curved steel tubes. He covers the exterior of this structure with natural materials, such as sacks of clay, bamboo, wax and bundles of sticks, or with lead, tar and broken panes of glass. The igloo in the sculpture garden is covered with slabs of sandstone.