The Mario Merz Prize has been created to both commemorate Mario Merz and launch a forward-looking art project. Through the expertise of a close International network of art and music professionals, it seeks to spotlight significant representatives of the art world while also involving young composers in an innovative contemporary music project.

Associated with the Fondazione Merz and promoted by an organizing committee, the project aims to create a new network of exhibition programs and music activities in Italy and Switzerland. The pairing between the two countries has originated from their common ground, both being productive cultural and artistic hubs. Furthermore, Switzerland is the country that gave birth to Mario Merz while Italy adopted him becoming his creative center.

With the firm belief that art represents boundless freedom of thought and promotes self-­determination, as well as the free circulation of
culture and ideas, the Prize is dedicated to artists and musicians, who have the pure will to carry out their artistic research beyond the hardship and obstacles determined by political, social or geographical backgrounds.
The art processes of the past 20 years have particularly focused on historical social and political changes. For such reason and considering the tragedies that yet afflict mankind, the Prize intends to expose the work of artists and composers whose creations convey the qualities of generosity of thought, social awareness and original research.

The Art Prize addresses artists who have been recognized for the quality of their work in their home country and are already known internationally. There are no restrictions regarding age, nationality or artistic medium. To participate in the selection, artists need to be nominated online by curators, museum directors, art critics, gallery directors or members of cultural associations. Self-­nominations are not admitted. Each artist can be nominated more than once. The artists shortlisted by a pre‐selection panel ultimately exhibit their work in a group exhibition. The winner, to be determined by an international Jury and by public vote, will be commissioned a piece, which will be showcased in a solo exhibition.

The Music Prize is dedicated to young contemporary music composers. Members of the Judging Panels are Italian and Swiss experts who have experience both as composers and as interpreters, thus guaranteeing a broader perspective and evaluation of the works. To enter the competition composers need to be nominated by music institutions, performers, critics or music professionals. Composers cannot nominate themselves. Each composer can receive more than one nomination and there are no restrictions regarding age, nationality or music instrument.
In the eliminatory phase the jury selects five finalists and their compositions will ultimately be performed in a concert. The winning musician will be commissioned a score for string orchestra and a music piece for an exhibition space, thus creating a liaison between the two different art forms.

The public is invited to cast their vote directly at the Fondazione Merz visiting the exhibition and listening to the concert’s recording or online logging onto the Mario Merz Prize website.

The Prize will be awarded every two years.

The winners of the first edition are Wael Shawky (Art) and Cyrill Schürch (Music).
The winners of the second edition are Petrit Halilaj (Art) and Geoffrey Gordon (Music).