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Article

Italian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 17 July 1947, in Milan.

Painter, sculptor, theorist.

Arte Povera, Conceptual Art.

Adriano Altamira put forward his first critical observations on the phenomena of vision in 1967. Next he began to use minimalist structures, plaits and interlacings, like some of the methods used in France by the ...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 4 August 1948, in Paris.

Installation artist.

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera.

Bernard Amiard's work can be compared to that of Arte Povera. He combines substances, texture and image. He mostly uses neon as a graphic medium. He leans towards a redefinition of objects as brute materials and their reciprocating relationships....

Article

Italian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1948, in Fiesole.

Painter.

Luciano Bartolini, like other Italians of his generation, was influenced by the conceptual movements of the 1970s and by Arte Povera.

He paints on paper, but it is paper handmade in Tibet which he crumples, folds, cuts, glues, overlays and paints. The painted marks include geometrical or symbolic shapes, a rectangle, a tantric circle, or scripts which have been invented and therefore cannot be read. He also uses richly esoteric colours, the black and red of the sacred, the gold of Byzantine icons. The delicate structures of his work mask an inherent mysticism. He has exhibited in Italy and in London....

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Ancona, 1947).

Italian conceptual and performance artist. At 17 he mounted his own exhibition (1964; Ancona, Gal. D.D.), before moving to Rome where he was influenced by Arte Povera. His one-man show (1969; Rome, Gal. Attico), for which he published an obituary announcing his death, included traces of ‘invisible objects’: a square outlined on the floor constituted Invisible Pyramid. Such dematerialization was associated with mortality, with which de Domenicis was primarily concerned, investigated through autobiography and self-portraiture, as well as through juxtapositions of Urvasi, the Hindu goddess of beauty, and the partially divine Ghilgamesh, who sought immortality in vain. Invisibility became a paradoxical and primary conceptual means: D’io (‘of me’/‘God’, 1971) filled the Galleria L’Attico with a recording of laughter. Having included live animals in his Zodiac exhibition (1970; Rome, Gal. Attico), de Domenicis increasingly used people to embody such concepts as ageing (e.g. the opposition of a young and an old man at Incontri Internazionale d’Arte, Rome, ...

Article

Japanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950.

Sculptor.

Arte Povera.

Endo Toshikatsu works in wood, coal tar, earth, fire and water. He has taken part in numerous group exhibitions since 1974, mainly in Japan. Other exhibitions were: 1986, Documenta VIII, Kassel; 1987, New York; 1988...

Article

American, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in England.

Born 1947, in Salem (Ohio).

Draughtsman, sculptor.

Without joining the Arte Povera movement, which sprang up primarily in Italy from 1968 onward, Joel Fischer nevertheless benefited from it, in that this movement looked at the coarsest materials through new eyes. However, the issue for Fischer is not one of expressivity, as it is for the Arte Povera artists, but rather a reflection on the ambitions of art. In his early career his work was above all intended to be a derisory activity. At this time he began to plait and spin hair, and make nails from old bits of metal or pieces of coarse paper from old clothes. By reaffirming ties with the artisan side of art, Fischer quickly found favour in the USA. Without losing interest in the materials, he began in the 1980s to explore meticulously the medium and subject of his future drawings: chiffon paper, which he makes entirely by hand. The imperfections are exaggerated with charcoal and, in a new space, come to signify a non-accidental form. In ...

Article

German, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active since 1977 active in France.

Born 1950, in Kronach (Bavaria).

Sculptor, assemblage artist, environmental artist, mixed media.

Arte Povera.

Friedmann is self-taught and settled in Aignay-Le-Duc in Burgundy in 1977, where she lives and works. In the early 1980s, she started photography, focusing on disused locations. Since ...

Article

Romanian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Germany from 1980.

Born 11 February 1953, in Bazna.

Sculptor.

Arte Povera.

Johannes Kares first studied choreography in Cluj before transferring to the theatre institute in Bucharest, from which he graduated in 1978. During the same period he was sculpting life-sized works in the studio of another sculptor, Grigore Minea. Settled in Germany, he continued his training as a sculptor with Baumann at the academy of fine arts in Stuttgart. During his summer holidays, he worked in the marble quarries in Azzano, Italy. He settled in Leonberg in ...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 1950, in Paris.

Painter (mixed media), collage artist.

Nadjia Mehadji has a Moroccan father. Her painting addresses issues of movement and energy in an existential framework. Arte Povera's analysis has informed her pictorial mediation of shape. She resorts to geometric figures to frame her artistic experience. She paints series ( ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Vergato, nr Bologna, Nov 24, 1943).

Italian painter, sculptor, conceptual artist and film maker. His first one-man show (1970; Milan, Gal. S Fedele) reflected his awareness of Arte Povera in the multifarious cut-outs of corrugated cardboard and rubber. Ontani’s major occupation was, however, enacting ritualized performances, as in the fire-walking film Fuochino (1972) shown at the Venice Biennale of 1972. In common with several contemporaries, he transformed himself, updating artistic quotations as a critique of past culture; he assumed a pose from David’s Rape of the Sabines in the punningly entitled Rattondo David (‘Raping David’, photographic tondo, 700 mm, 1974; see 1991 exh. cat., p. 43) to comment upon this process, as well as the retrospective sanitization of European culture. In performances at the Galleria L’Attico, Rome (with Jannis Kounellis, Francesco Clemente and others), Ontani acted out emblematic characters, from Don Quixote (1974) to Dracula (1975). In addition to such referential photographs as ...

Article

Renato Barilli

(b Genoa, Nov 5, 1940).

Italian painter and sculptor. He trained as a graphic designer and in the 1960s reacted against the picturesqueness of Art informel by concentrating on the basic components of painting: canvas, frame, paint of a single colour or even the abolition of paint in favour of a completely bare surface. In Geometric Drawing (1960; see 1980 exh. cat., p. 10), for instance, he simply bisected the rectangular with four ink lines running vertically, horizontally and diagonally, an allusion to the traditional squaring up of an image for transfer. The themes he introduced in these works, pertaining especially to the problematic relationship between a copy (deemed inauthentic) and an original work, were central to everything he produced in later years.

Paolini soon turned to other media, in particular photography, which he also used at the most basic level of black and white, as part of his continuing investigation of painting and of the status of the individual object. In ...

Article

Italian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 3 April 1947, in Garessio (Piedmont).

Sculptor, painter, draughtsman, illustrator, engraver, mixed media.

Arte Povera.

Giuseppe Penone was a student at the Accademia Albertina in Turin, where he lives and works. Overall, his work tends to show the link between man and his culture and nature as a part of the universe. Affiliated to Italian Arte Povera, his style belongs to that movement mainly by virtue of the materials he uses - branches, leaves, bark, snakeskins after sloughing, water and earth, marble, glass and the like. The artist himself gives his peasant origins as one of the reasons for his attachment to nature, seeing in them, as in the construction of a forest road, a 'magnificent work of art'. Postulating the idea of an ancient unitary state where there was no distinction between artisan and artist, he works with living organic matter. He borrows from nature, the source of creation, and writes his existence in it, presenting in ...

Article

Nancy Ring

(b Turin, April 3, 1947).

Italian sculptor and conceptual artist. He created his earliest works in a forest outside Garessio in 1968. He marked his presence there with an iron hand gripping a tree trunk (see 1978 exh. cat., p. 33); trees pierced by nails and laced with metal wire; and a plaster slab measuring his width and height and the depth of a brook. The works revealed his interest in establishing points of contact between man and nature. A member of the Arte Povera group, he continued throughout his career to explore the connections between natural and cultural forms. In 12-meter Tree (1969; Stockholm, Mod. Mus.), one of a series, he carefully carved into a beam of wood to recover the original form of a tree, leaving part of the beam untouched to signify its status as a manmade object.

In the early 1970s Penone used his body as his principal subject, projecting images drawn from the surface of his skin on to plaster casts of his face or on to wall surfaces (see ...

Article

French, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1947.

Sculptor, installation artist.

Land Art, Arte Povera.

Daniel Pontoreau works in concrete, steel and glass to create installations that frequently evoke receptacles, urns, vases and boxes. He was awarded a monumental art scholarship by the French town of Ivry....

Article

Salvo  

Matthew Gale

[Mangione, Salvatore]

(b Leoforte, Sicily, May 22, 1947).

Italian conceptual artist and painter. After participating in the revolutionary activities of 1968, he produced works that were associated with the conceptual wing of Turinese Arte Povera when shown at the Galleria Sperone (1970). In 12 Self-portraits (photomontages, 1969; New York, John Weber Gal.) Salvo pasted a picture of himself into newspaper photographs of Cuban revolutionaries, Nazi troops and factory workers. He assumed the burden of the complexity of history on various levels: fables, in handwritten manuscripts (e.g. Salvo in Wonderland, 1971; Paris, Yvon Lambert priv. col.); memorials, in marble inscriptions of great figures ending in his own name (e.g. 40 Names, 1971); and nationalism, in the neon ‘Salvo’ in the colours of the Italian flag, Tricolore (1971; Cologne, Paul Maenz priv. col.; all in 1977 exh. cat., pp. 29, 31 and 35).

Strategies of exploration through self-representation were shared by such contemporaries as Boetti and Anselmo, and Salvo exhibited alongside them in ...

Article

20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1961, in St-Dizier (Haute-Marne), France.

Sculptor of assemblages.

Arte Povera.

Sommerhalter lives and works in Nice. During the 1990s, all of his sculptures were based upon the relationship and opposition of two materials and dynamics, for example a piece of salvaged metal and an inflated inner tube....

Article

Tunga  

Brazilian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 8 February 1952, in Palmares (Pernambuco).

Sculptor, installation artist.

Tunga trained as an architect. As in Arte Povera, Tunga's work is meant to be close to life. He draws his materials from everyday life and works with familiar objects ranging from bowls and thimbles, to heavy materials like iron, copper or other metal plates and copper wire, as well as organic matter like hair, and more recently with blown glass. Tunga then integrates another dimension by adding literary, philosophical and scientific references. From accumulations and excesses Tunga builds up an original personal fiction, which destabilises perception, confuses scales and multiplies the connections between the objects, materials and the more anatomical shapes and colours and, in so doing transports the viewer to an imaginary phantasmagorical world. After ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Andorno Micca, nr Biella, Piedmont, Sept 21, 1944).

Italian sculptor, performance artist and conceptual artist . He studied painting and sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Turin (1963–70) and held his first one-man show at the Galleria Sperone, Turin, in 1967. Use of such non-artistic materials as the scaffolding and foam of Chair (1967; New York, Sonnabend Gal.) ensured his inclusion in Arte Povera (1968; Bologna, Gal. de Foscherari) and performance at Arte Povera—azioni povere (1968; Amalfi, Arsenale). Zorio’s characteristic pieces rejected sculptural weight and solidity by use of cantilevers or suspension and reactions over time or with the environment. Several incorporated light; Phosphorescent Fist (1971; Paris, Pompidou) was lit and plunged into darkness, alternatively absorbing and emitting and absorbing energy, being lit and then unlit.

In common with his friend Giovanni Anselmo, Zorio raised linguistic problems, as in Odio (‘Hatred’), axed into a wall at Documenta 5, Kassel (1972), but his concern with energy led to experiments with both chemical and physical instability. He initiated gradual chemical reactions in his materials, which continued beyond the period of making, and used Olympic javelins to provide cantilevers; when combined with fragile, glass vessels or with the emblematic form of the five-pointed star (e.g. ...