Wednesday, December 19, 2007
What is Arte Povera + Artist of the Week: Ben Nicholson
Senza Titolo (Untitled), 1982
oil & waterpaint withe clay, snail shell & leaves on wood
34 5/8 x 66 7/8 inches
88 x 170 cm
Arte Povera describes the work of the group of Italian avant-garde 1960s artists who made arte povera (poor art)- objects create from cheap and tacky materials. They had a strong political agenda- the elevation of humble materials and the elevation of the poorer social classes. Official commentaries often explain this art in language as impenetrable in meaning as the art works themselves - 'anti-elitist','dynamics of transformation','dialect of art and existence','exigencies of circumstance', and so on. The claims made for the significance of their work were and still are enormous. Whether the claims were (are) fulfilled is another matter. Kounellis, who was one of the leading proponents of arte povera, had a particular liking for sacking, blood, and marks made by flames and smoke.
Cumming, Robert (2001). Art: A Field Guide (pg. 377). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.