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Italian art – Arte povera

Arte povera is a contemporary art movement from Italy (1967 – 2002) that is a major exhibition documenting the development of one of the most important art movements that deal with urban life as well as new developments.   

Arte povera exhibition presents work by eleven artists who came to be famous in the late 1960s and early 70s through their association with the Arte Povera movement.

Included in this group are a number of significant early works from the artists as well as more recent works, tracing their careers from the rise of the movement to today. 

Arte Povera artists are Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gliberto Zorio. 

They are recognized for their varied and freely experimental work; their drastic and at the time innovatory use of everyday or organic materials such as stone, sponge, wool, wood, cloth, steel, wax, felt or cement; and their fusion of nature and culture in a reflection of current life.

This group is based at Italy’s Castello di Rivoli Contemporary Art Museum, situated in Rivoli, Turin.

It was in 1967 that critic Germano Celant defined as Arte Povera (poor art) the work of those thirteen young Italian artists. Through sculpture and installation they explored the relation between art and life as it is made manifest through nature, elemental matter or cultural artifacts, and experienced through the body.

Their work is innovative because of the materials, for example through using open-ended combinations of unlikely fragments a slab of marble with a lettuce, or fruit scattered amongst neon tubes giving the most banal materials a metaphysical dimension.

Bridging the natural and the artificial, the urban and the rural, Mediterranean life and Western modernity is the essential inspiration behind this type of art.