The Arte Povera artistic current emerged within contemporary art. The term was coined by historian and art critic Germano Celant (Genoa 1940-2021).

Arte Povera was founded in 1967 by 13 artists who in the early 1960s started producing works that crossed the traditional boundaries of painting and sculpture.

The artists used various materials found in nature, such as water, coal, live animals, fire, iron, rags, plastic, earth, the desert, ice, and snow.

In other words, anything found in nature and that cost nothing.

Installations were popular.

Many works were ephemeral and could be placed anywhere. Some were attached to ceilings, like Gilberto Zorio’s canoes.

Others were placed on the ground, like Pino Pascali’s “bristle worms”.

Arte Povera Alighiero Boetti
Alighiero Boetti Arte Povera

The works didn’t need traditional containers. They were basically fluid, living in space, activating it, and charging it with energy.

The artists included Giovanni Anselmo, Mario and Marisa Merz, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighiero Boetti, Giulio Paolini, Aldo Mondino, Sperone, Mario Ceroli, Piero Gilardi, Jannis Kounellis, Alighiero Boetti, Gilberto Zorio, Giuseppe Penone, Emilio Prini, Pier Paolo Calzolari, and Luciano Fabro.

Giovanni Anselmo Arte opera
Oltramare by Giovanni Anselmo
Igloo di Mario Merz Arte povera
Mario Merz Igloo