Arte Povera was born in Italy in the late 1960s in response to the American way of life, and to the consumerist art such as pop art, characterized by overbidding, spectacular and overwhelming media-ism.
This group of artists, originating from the industrial city of Turin, were marked by social conflicts and the mercantilism of the art market. What prevails in their artistic expression is the natural, the instinct and the ephemeral.
According to the Italian art critic Germano Celant at the origin of the term, Arte povera is "an hymn to the elementary element, to the banal element, to nature, to man, fragment of spirit and body ".
Social and political manifesto, it is more an attitude, a behavior, a discipline rather than a movement, namely:
- a way of being and creating, giving priority to gesture, the creative process to the detriment of the finished object;
- a refusal to consider art as a product that can be appropriated and sacralized;
- a simple, even archaic, implementation of so-called "poor, rough, crude, natural materials (wood, coal, stones ...), often made of recovered objects ;
- the exhibition space is part of the installation;
- a poetic dimension and even a spiritual materialism forcing us to think about the mysteries of existence.
Frugal art, art of recovery or harvest, it is an essential expression, anchored in the real, with symbolic and poetic scope.
Artists of Arte povera go beyond the limits of sculpture or painting, beyond the framework, in order to exalt the real and develop a radical visual language. Numerous experiments in poor art will be carried out in other disciplines such as architecture ("Global tools", a counter-school of architecture and design rethinking social space in an ecological context), dance, cinema or music.
Arte Povera, originally an artistic guerrilla, based on a formal radicalism and an economy of means, has never been so timely.
Far from being a moment of cultural regression, it finds today many resonances and extensions in different non-ostentatious forms of art, anchored either in reality or in nature (art of the World, ecological art ...) which meat an increasingly public membership.
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