Arte Povera

Luciano Fabro – ‘Italia d’oro’ (1971)

Arte Povera


The incredibly influential contemporary art movement , Arte Povera (Italian for ‘poor art’), has, through the late 1960’s to the 1980’s, inspired numerous Italian contemporary artists, many of which are participating in the Socle du Monde biennale. But what exactly is Arte Povera? And how did this particular art movement affect the subsequent art world following it?

Arte Povera is considered to have originated in 1962, in part when one of the principal Arte Povera artists, Michelangelo Pistoletto, painted on mirrors, creating a connection between painting and a reality in constant flux. He continued this new style by using tattered textile pieces to create art, breaking with traditional mindsets of art and the hierarchical view on materials. Thus, there were no materials too “cheap” to be used for thought-provoking and awe-inspiring art. And as such, the Arte Povera art movement began, as a disaffiliation with the idea of art having to be refined or costly to produce in order to qualify as art. 

During the Arte Povera movement the concept of what may be defined as art expanded; conceptual art was art at the same level as paintings, and thusly bodies, performances, language, behavior, and ideas were also art with intrinsic value. Symbolism which renounced commercialism, capitalism, materialism, and industrialism was particularly widespread during the art movement, and significant weight was put upon the spiritual, spatial, human, and natural.

It was largely the bigger Italian cities where Arte Povera flourished, the city Turin in Northern Italy in particular was affected by the Arte Povera art movement, with numerous artists sojourning in the city during that period. The movement didn’t only exist in Italy, however, and had influence around the rest of Europe as well, and in present times has left an impression on the art world with a new understanding that valuable art may be conceived from any material and any source.

Artists who participated in the Arte Povera movement:

  Alighiero Boetti  |  Emilio Prini  |  Gilberto Zorio  |  Giulio Paolini |  Jannis Kounellis  |  Luciano Fabro  |  Mario Merz  |  Michelangelo Pistoletto  |  Pier Paolo Calzolari   |  Piero Manzoni  | Pino Pascali  


Socle du Monde Biennale 2021 is supported by: