Arte Povera: A Group Retrospective
Currently on view at Hauser & Wirth gallery, Arte Povera. Curated by Ingvild Goetz, is an extensive group show highlighting the work of the most prolific artists in the Arte Povera movement, as well as their documentarians. Expanding over three floors, the exhibition focuses on art in a variety of media from the 1950s through the 1990s. Arte Povera is of museum quality with some compelling insight and emphasis on the importance of chronicling the art and its artists.
The exhibition explores some of the broad themes of the Arte Povera movement such as experience, anti-commercialism, “poor” materials, and the ephemeral nature of life and art. Accompanying the work are quotes from all of the artists, printed crudely on the floor. This touch makes the art feel more personal; each artist’s voice is heard and accompanies their art, easily allowing for the formation of connections between the two. In addition, the depth of work by each artist is impressive.
Some of the highlights include Jannis Kounnellis’s “Senza titolo,” (Untitled) paintings that he considered his first performance because he “sang his pictures,” and Michelangelo Pistoletto’s works on reflective surfaces. Pistoletto’s mirror paintings are completed with the viewer’s presence, becoming their own type of performance. Quoted from Giovanni Anselmo, “I, the world, the things, are energy situations, and the point is not to let situations stagnate, but to keep them open and alive as functions of our life.” Anselmo stresses the importance of intertwining the chaos of life and art, and getting away from traditional forms of art, a theme that is referenced throughout the exhibition.
The third floor of Arte Povera features portrait and documentary photographs of the artists and their work. Claudio Abate, Giorgio Colombo, and Paolo Mussat Sartor were photographers in their own right, but personally knew the artists of the Arte Povera movement, and documented their relationships as much as their art. Viewers are given the option to peruse reading material on the movement as well. These educational elements give the viewer the freedom to engage as much or as little as they want, allowing for a unique experience not often found in commercial galleries.