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Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1926, in Milan; died 1981.

Collage artist, mixed media. Artists' books.

Arte Povera, Conceptual Art.

Vicenzo Agnetti's work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions of international contemporary art, including Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany (1972) and Biennale in Venice (...

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 century, male.

Active in Turin.

Born 1934, in Borgofranco d'Ivrea.

Installation artist.

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera.

Giovanni Anselmo is one of the exponents of Arte Povera (It. 'poor art'), the singular movement that was expressed in many physical forms. It was founded in Italy and remained Italian in character, despite obviously influencing conceptual artists in other countries. Arte Povera falls within the vast movement of conceptual art that swept over the art scene in the 1960s, historically a time of social, political and ethical protest. Arte Povera challenged art itself above all else. A Zen influence, conscious or subconscious depending on the work, is also discernible in the invitation to contemplate a pile of pebbles presented as a work or a non-work of art, or any other object that the eyes and the mind regularly take for granted.The term Arte Povera was coined by Germano Celant (the movement's main instigator and historian) in ...

Article

Renato Barilli

(b Borgofranco d’Ivrea, Piedmont, Aug 5, 1934).

Italian sculptor. After working as a painter from 1959 to 1964, he turned to conceptual art in 1965 and by 1968 was associated with the emergence of Arte Povera, of which he became one of the strictest and most coherent exponents. His limited output consisted largely of the staging of major physical processes whose long-term effects the audience was invited to imagine, in such a way that the non-material dimension of thought was brought to bear on bulky and spectacular physical phenomena. In Direction (150×500×800 mm, 1967–9; Paris, Pompidou), for instance, a magnetic compass is set within a circular recess of a slab of granite shaped like an arrowhead and displayed pointing north, thus proposing two different ways of expressing the concept alluded to by the title.

A consistent message in Anselmo’s work is that one should not entirely believe one’s eyes, since there is always a component that lies beyond appearances. In one sculpture, ...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1940, in Turin; died 24 April 1994, in Rome.

Mixed media, textile artist.

Arte Povera, Conceptual Art.

Alighiero e Boetti lived and worked in Rome. He is considered to be one of the founders, in 1967, of the Arte Povera (Impoverished Art) movement, to each of whose group exhibitions he routinely contributed. In ...

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

Matthew Gale

(b Turin, Nov 20, 1936; d Milan, June 23, 2007).

Italian sculptor, conceptual artist and writer. He frequented artistic circles in Udine in the mid-1950s. In 1958 Fabro saw Lucio Fontana’s contribution to the Venice Biennale and the following year moved to Milan, where he discovered the work of Yves Klein and Francesco Lo Savio and was closely associated with Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Their investigations of matter and space influenced Fabro’s idea of the artist as a facilitator of experiences without preconceived categories. After tentative early works, he embarked upon austere pieces that encapsulated phenomenological problems, such as The Hole (1963; artist’s col.), a mirror with the reflective coating partially scraped away. While the scraping mimicked the techniques of Art informel, the fusion of reflection and the recession, seen through the suspended glass, was indebted to Duchamp. His first one-man show (1965; Milan, Gal. Vismara) combined mirror pieces with the Spatial Lines, which demarcated their environment with tubular metal (e.g. ...

Article

Alfred Pacquement

International art form that developed particularly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was part of a revolt against painting and sculpture and the anti-formalist current of the late 1960s that included Conceptual art and Arte Povera. A number of mainly British and North American artists turned their attention to working directly with nature, notably Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Richard Long. They created immense sculptures on the same scale as landscape itself, or exhibited written and photographic accounts of their excursions. With few exceptions, their works (also known as Earthworks) are almost inaccessible, situated far from human settlements in deserts or abandoned areas. Their lifespan was brief: little by little they were destroyed by the elements and often by erosion, so that for posterity they exist only in the form of preparatory drawings, photographs, or films. The works themselves were seen by only a small number of people and sometimes by only the artist....

Article

German, 20th century, male.

Active in Belgium.

Born 1940, in Düsseldorf.

Sculptor (mixed media).

Arte Povera, Conceptual Art.

Bernd Lohaus initially worked in a carpentry workshop, then began an apprenticeship as a stone-cutter in 1960. After the show Fluxus, which brought together John Cage, Ben, Allen Kaprow, Nam June Paik and Joseph Beuys among others, he studied under Beuys at the school of fine arts in Düsseldorf ...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 13 November 1940, in Gagli di Pesaro Urbino.

Installation artist, performance artist.

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera.

Since 1961, Mattiacci has taken part in a large number of group exhibitions, among them the 1961 Biennale of art in metal held in Gubbio; the exhibition of young artists held at the gallery of modern art in Rome in ...

Article

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 1 January 1925, in Milan; died 9 November 2003, in Milan.

Painter, installation artist, sculptor, draughtsman, mixed media.

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, Visual Poetry.

Mario Merz spent two years studying medicine at the University of Turin, during which time he also tried his hand at Concretist poetry and attended courses at the institute of fine arts. However, he soon turned against any kind of formal education. In 1945, shortly before the fall of Mussolini, he was imprisoned under the Fascist regime as a political activist. On his release he moved to Paris, where he became familiar with the work of artists such as Dubuffet, Fautrier and Pollock and the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1959, he met his future wife Marisa, and in the mid-1960s he returned to live and work in Turin....

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

Italian, 20th century, male.

Born 5 November 1940, in Genoa.

Painter (mixed media), collage artist, sculptor, draughtsman.

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera.

Paolini lives and works in Turin and Paris. His artistic activity has been an enquiry into the multiple aspects of art. At the beginning of the 1960s, he created presentations of blank canvases, of the reverse side of canvases, supports and frames. Initially restricted to just the geometry of the canvas, his later work tended to include the physical space in which the works are displayed....

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

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

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. ...