Mario Merz Untitled (A Real Sum Is a Sum of People) 1972

  • Not on view

This sequence of photographs depicts an ever-increasing number of people sitting in a restaurant, numbered in neon above. These numbers follow the Fibonacci series, a system of growth (often seen in nature) that perpetuates itself by adding the two previous elements to arrive at the next. Merz began using the series in 1970. He has said, "I did not understand why a work of art had to be a certain length when it could be infinite. . . . In the Fibonacci series, there are no spatial limitations because space becomes infinite—not abstract infinity, but biological infinity."

Gallery label from 2008.
Gelatin silver prints, neon tubing, transformer, and wire
Overall 24" x 16' 7 1/4" x 5 1/8" (60.9 x 506 x 13 cm)
Mrs. Armand P. Bartos Fund
Object number
© 2019/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome
Painting and Sculpture

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to