Arte Povera, also known as “anti-form” and “raw materialist art,” was an art movement that rejected fancy techniques and exclusive materials. The movement began in Italy in the 1960s when a collection of unconventional artists started making creative pieces out of otherwise useless elements like soil, rags, and bits of wood. These experimental artists created an innovative new genre by fusing conceptual art with minimalism, assemblage, and often with performance art as well in pioneering style. Turin-based art dealer Enzo Sperone decided to promote the movement and Germano Celant, an art critic, gave the movement its name.
Exploring the Elements Behind Arte Povera
The rules in art are fluid at best, especially when it comes to what forms an art movement. To explore the origin of Arte Povera, it is best to take a closer look at what influenced the start of the movement. The art world widely believes that the primary Arte Povera artists were influenced by the political and economic chaos that Italy was experiencing at the time. Some of the first contributors to the movement included the Dau al Set artistic collective led by Joan Brossa, a poet who tried to translate the conscious and unconscious into art. In addition, the movement was influenced by Piero Manzoni, who used irony to give interpretation to avant-garde art, and the Spatialism movement, spearheaded by Lucio Fontana’s amalgamation of space, color, sound, and motion.
Similarities and Differences From Other Contemporary Movements
Because of its disdain for convention and casual approach to art, Arte Povera has been compared to Neo-Dadaism and Nouveau Realisme, but the movement has remained unique since its artists would tend to infuse both deep emotion and a high level of intellect into their works.
Renowned Arte Povera Artists
Four of the movement’s most prominent artists are:
• Jannis Kounellis, who highlighted social and spiritual deficiencies by creating peculiar constructions.
• Luciano Fabro, an artist known for using organic elements such as vegetables in mixed media projects.
• Mario Merz, who worked with matter, energy, and light to create organic artworks.
• Gelberto Zorio, an innovative artist who used items like light tubes, materials like pitch, and natural processes like evaporation and oxidation to create unusual works.
How the Movement Impacted Art History
Although a large range of materials used by Arte Povera artists may have been acquired for free, the “poor” nature of the movement has been overestimated throughout history. Some of the most significant Arte Povera works used costly materials and were exhibited in exclusive and sophisticated locations. Besides achieving a decent amount of fame in avant-garde circles, many of the artists did not ever become recognized globally for their work. Nevertheless, the movement still managed to become quite prominent in the postmodern art realm. A wide range of Arte Povera works are still on display at major international art museums, including at the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Courtauld Institute in London, and the Kunstmuseum in Liechtenstein.