Alighiero e Boetti & the Arte Povera

Posted March 27th, 2012

Italy, Shows

Arte Povera is a modern art movement. The term was introduced in Italy during the period of upheaval at the end of the 1960s, when artists were taking a radical stance. Artists began attacking the values of established institutions of government, industry, and culture, and even questioning whether art as the private expression of the individual still had an ethical reason to exist. Italian art critic Germano Celant organized two exhibitions in 1967 and 1968, followed by an influential book published by Electa in 1985 called Arte Povera Storie e protagonisti/Arte Povera. Histories and Protagonists, promoting the notion of a revolutionary art, free of convention, the power of structure, and the market place. Although Celant attempted to encompass the radical elements of the entire international scene, the term properly centered on a group of Italian artists who attacked the corporate mentality with an art of unconventional materials and style. They often used found objects in their works. Other early exponents of radical change in the visual arts include proto Arte Povera artists: Antoni Tàpies and the Dau al Set movement, Alberto Burri, Piero Manzoni, and Lucio Fontana and Spatialism. The heyday of the movement was from 1967-1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. Can also be seen as Italian contribution to Conceptual art.

The most wide-ranging public collection of works from the Arte Povera movement is at the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein.

Image above: Alighiero e Boetti Aerei 1978 © DACS, London 2007

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From the Tate Glossary: “Arte Povera emerged from within a network of urban cultural activity in these cities, as the Italian economic miracle of the immediate post-war years collapsed into a chaos of economic and political instability. The name means literally ‘poor art’ but the word poor here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the quasi-precious traditional ones of oil paint on canvas, or bronze, or carved marble. Arte Povera therefore denotes not an impoverished art, but an art made without restraints, a laboratory situation in which any theoretical basis was rejected in favour of a complete openness towards materials and processes. ”

TateShots: Alighiero E Boetti

Alighiero E Boetti was a key member of the Arte Povera group of young Italian artists in the late 1960s which was working in radically new ways using simple materials. Here, curator Mark Godfrey, walks us around the Boetti exhibition at Tate Modern.

Alighiero E Boetti (1940–1994) was one of the most important and influential Italian artists of the twentieth century. He was a key member of the Arte Povera group of young Italian artists in the late 1960s which was working in radically new ways using simple materials. This will be the first solo show by an Arte Povera artist at Tate Modern. Boetti used industrial materials associated with Turin’s booming economy and later made works using postage stamps, biro pens, and magazine covers. His work engaged with the changing geopolitical situation of his time, much of it made on his travels to places such as Ethiopia and Guatemala and Afghanistan. Between 1971 and 1979 he set up a hotel in Kabul as an art project and created large colourful embroideries, the most famous of these were the Mappa, world maps in which each country features the design of its national flag. Highlights include works never seen in the UK such as the iconic Self-Portrait 1993, a life-size bronze cast of the artist hosing his head with a jet of water.

Alighiero Boetti at the Tate until 27 May 2012