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Arte Povera Collage

Arte Povera - Important Art

Started: 1962

Ended: 1972

Arte Povera Timeline

Important Art and Artists of Arte Povera

The below artworks are the most important in Arte Povera - that both overview the major ideas of the movement, and highlight the greatest achievements by each artist in Arte Povera. Don't forget to visit the artist overview pages of the artists that interest you.

Luciano Fabro: Floor Tautology (1967)
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Floor Tautology (1967)

Artist: Luciano Fabro

Artwork description & Analysis: By the time he joined the Arte Povera group, Luciano Fabro was already a well-known artist associated with the likes of Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana, two important precursors of the movement. His Floor Tautology involves an area of floor, kept polished and covered with newspapers to dry. Shown in Germano Celant's first survey of Arte Povera, Fabro's celebration of an ordinary task was instrumental in his attempt to recalibrate the concept of fine art. The elevation of a duty associated with housework - and most often coded as women's work - became a theme in his later pieces that utilized bed sheets and other fabrics.

Floor, newspapers

Giovanni Anselmo: Untitled (1968)
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Untitled (1968)

Artist: Giovanni Anselmo

Artwork description & Analysis: Giovanni Anselmo worked as a graphic designer, and began to experiment with the arts in his spare time. One of his first installations, which involved thin metal rods vertically attached to pieces of wood, suggested his fascination with the effects of nature upon inanimate objects. Similarly, Untitled (sometimes referred to as Eating Structure) comprises a small block of granite attached to a larger, plinth-like block by means of a head of lettuce and a length of wire. If the lettuce is allowed to dry out, the smaller block will fall, therefore the sculpture has to be regularly "fed" with lettuces to maintain its structure. Its concern with balance and gravity echoes some of the interests of American Post-Minimal art, though its comic tone, and its use of such mundane materials as a head of lettuce, is typical of Arte Povera's evocation of poor and rural life.

Granite, copper wire, lettuce - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Piero Manzoni: Artist's Shit (no. 4) (1961)
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Artist's Shit (no. 4) (1961)

Artist: Piero Manzoni

Artwork description & Analysis: Piero Manzoni began his artistic career as a self-taught painter. As his style evolved, he continually questioned traditional methods and interpretations of art. While Manzoni is not considered a true member of the Arte Povera group (more of a precursor), his work reflects the principles of the movement. Supposedly containing 30 grams of excrement, Manzoni's Artist's Shit reprises such famous avant-garde provocations as Marcel Duchamp's presentation of a urinal as a work of art, in Fountain (1917). Ninety cans were produced, canned and labeled in an identical manner, mocking the practices of mass production and consumption, and satirizing the reverence usually accorded to artist's work.

Tin can, contents unknown - The Tate Modern, London

Mario Merz: Giap's Igloo (1968)
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Giap's Igloo (1968)

Artist: Mario Merz

Artwork description & Analysis: Mario Merz held the distinction of being the oldest of the Arte Povera artists; he was also married to the group's only female member, Marisa Merz. Already established as a painter in an Abstract Expressionist style, Arte Povera provided him with the opportunity to start his career anew. In the first of his signature igloos, Merz uses a phrase taken from a Vietnamese military general: "Se il nemico si concentra perde terreno se si disperde perde forza" ("If the enemy masses his forces, he loses ground; if he scatters, he loses strength"). Merz's igloos provide a focus for his preoccupation with the necessities of life - shelter, warmth, and food - though, as here, they also often contain neon tubes that suggest more sophisticated and modern experiences, such as those of advertising and consumption.

Metal tubing, wire mesh, neon tubing, dirt in bags, batteries, accumulators - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Pino Pascali: 32 Square Meters of Sea (1967)
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32 Square Meters of Sea (1967)

Artist: Pino Pascali

Artwork description & Analysis: Pino Pascali started out as a designer and illustrator for advertisements, and learned to push the boundaries between illusion and reality. Similar to his Cubic Meters of Earth pieces, Pascali's 32 Square Meters of Sea brings together the natural and artificial. Containers hold quantities of dyed water that replicate the variegated tints of the ocean, alluding to the effects of motion and light. Yet the containers themselves also remind us of how humanity attempts to control nature. The geometric shapes and industrial materials used to produce the sculpture echo American Minimalist sculpture, though Pascali's use of a simple, natural material such as water betrays its origins in the concerns of Arte Povera. To Pascali, the poverty of the materials was essential to the artistic process: "We need the intensity of someone who has nothing, to be truly able to create something."

Aluminum and zinc containers, colored water treated with aniline - The National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome

Michelangelo Pistoletto: Structure for Talking While Standing (Minus Objects) (1965-66)
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Structure for Talking While Standing (Minus Objects) (1965-66)

Artist: Michelangelo Pistoletto

Artwork description & Analysis: Pistoletto's work often dealt with relationships . His earlier mirror works, which confronted self and image, explored concepts of identity. The Minus Objects series was developed around the idea of art that was only completed through the addition of human interaction. In this example, we can see how the structure connects to the viewer, allowing for a place to rest the arms and feet. Dialogue was also a concern to the artist, and Structure for Standing While Talking creates a bridge for conversation among visitors. Pistoletto originally conceived the idea after noticing marks left on the gallery walls where people had been leaning.

Iron, enamel - Pistoletto Foundation, Biella, Italy

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Content compiled and written by Tracee Ng

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Movement Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Tracee Ng
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 21 Jan 2012. Updated and modified regularly. Information
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