Emilio Prini Italian, 1943-2016


“I have no program, I grope my way, I see no trace of the birth of Art (nor of Tragedy) because the C.S. is not the fruit of pure human work (because I did not make the chair, the table, the sheet of paper, the pen I use to write). I create nothing, if possible.”

 - Emilio Prini, Fermi in dogana, 1995

Emilio Prini was born in Brisino di Stresa, in 1943 and lived in Rome for most of his life. He died in 2016.


In the Fall of 2019, the Fondazione Merz in Torino, owing to the strong bond between Prini and Marisa and Mario Merz, held the first institutional solo presentation of the artist’s work since 1995. Prini’s work was also featured in the seminal retrospective of Arte Povera organized across museums in Italy by Germano Celant in 2011. In 2010, the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein exhibited its holdings of work by Prini as part of the exhibition Arte Povera: Che Fare? In 2001, Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera, 1962-1972 held at Tate, London, later travelled to Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Washington, United States, featured work by Prini. In 1997, curator Catherine David invited Emilio Prini to her documenta X, thus including him in her theoretical confrontation of the art world’s imminent globalization.


In a 2012 interview, Italian dealer Franco Toselli, at whose gallery Prini had shown in 1975 the extraordinaryUna esposizione di oggetti non fatti non scelti non presentati da Emilio Prini, stated: “I have no news for you about Emilio, but Emilio is a precious resource, always on the run. In fact, Emilio is part of an ‘event’ in Italian art that includes only a few other figures such as Marisa and Mario Merz, and in a more theatrical way also in Gino De Dominicis. You can’t ‘describe’ them. They are like the history of poetry.”