Arte Povera and Politics

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Art History 325
Arte Povera and Politics

Arte Povera is a name given by Germano Celant to a group of artists in 1967. According to Celant, the goal of these artists was to overcome the “dichotomy between art and life.” These artists accomplished this breakdown by working with everyday or “poor” materials and by fostering a closer relationship with nature. Therefore, they used materials such as rocks and paper and made use of the force and gravity and electricity. The artists continued to foster a relationship between art and life and by 1968, Arte Povera was thus heavily influenced by the student protests that commenced in Paris and spread all over Europe. These protests were caused by the disenchantment of students at the rigid institutions that outlined formal relationships in society. They were discontented with the methods of education, consumerism and capitalism. Artists of the Arte Povera built a bridge between art and life by integrating these sentiments into their artwork. Their concern for the changes happening in society also influenced the way in which they presented their art. Because contemporary radicalism was concerned with breaking down conventions, the Arte Povera artists wanted to deconstruct the conventional presentation of artwork in a gallery and form new relationships between the art and the audience. This included new media, performance art and life size images to name a few. Artwork of the Arte Povera movement made use of themes, materials and methods of presentation that all alluded to the political climate of the time thus breaking the barrier between art and life. The political climate of the late 1960’s is marked by the famous student protests that took place all over Europe in 1968, known in Italy as the Sessantotto. Mario Merz, an artist of the Arte Povera movement was inspired by these student protests. His work thus coincides with the political climate of the time. It is composed of everyday objects and forces of nature:...
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