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Published: 05 December 2020

By Andy Ross

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Mario Merz's Cone

The Fibonacci sequence has intrigued Indian scholars since the 6th Century and European mathematicians and artists for more than 800 years. 

In the Fibonacci sequence a number is found by adding the preceding two: i.e. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 and so on. The progression provides a useful way for artists and craftspeople to use in determining various aspects of their creations. The woven whirlpool, Maelstrom, created by the Ann Sutton Foundation that is in the studio collection, for example,  demonstrates this in the determinination of the structure while The Shetland Tweed Company uses it for colour sequences. 

The artist, Mario Merz (1925-2003) was fascinated by the sequence. He used it often in his work including this piece (pictured left), Cone, made around about 1967 by craftsmen to the artist's design. The piece is made from wicker, as befits its Arte Povera status, and originally, when it is was first exhibited, was shown with a boiling pot of beans in its interior suggesting something alive inside the basket. Cone is now in the Tate Modern collection and can be seen on display there.