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Michelangelo Pistoletto, "Walking Sculpture" (1967–1968), action, streets of Turin, January 1968, frames from the film by Ugo Nespolo Buongiorno Michelangelo (image courtesy Archivio Pistoletto)

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As is the case with many other art historical movements, the most celebrated artists associated with Arte Povera are (mainly) dead, white, and male. Think of the infamous equine installations of Jannis Kounellis, for example, or the experiments in “objectivity” of Michelangelo Pistoletto. Marisa Merz, that  towering conceptualist icon, often remains the one major exception. 

Michelangelo Pistoletto, “Lei e Lui – (Maria e Michelangelo)” (1968), painted tissue paper on polished stainless steel 230 x 120 cm (image courtesy Archivio Pistoletto)

Yet as the lecture series Arte Povera: Art of Collaboration sets out to establish, numerous other women did play important, if more behind-the-scenes, roles in the movement. (Cue the outdated but occasionally still apt euphemism, “behind every man…”). Presented by the Hudson Valley-based museum Magazzino Italian Art, the series is organized by 2020-21 Scholar-in-Residence Teresa Kittler, who emphasizes the importance of dialogue and reciprocity when approaching the movement. “I wanted to draw the focus away from the individual artist and onto the friendships, dialogue and exchange that has sustained those artists over extended periods; to reflect on how that is registered in ways of working or the work produced,” she explained to Hyperallergic. 

In addition to the more famous example of Merz and her husband Mario, case studies will include more informal, yet still crucial exchanges between Alighiero Boetti and Anne-Marie Sauzeau Boetti, and between Luciano Fabro and the art critic Carla Lonzi, who were friends as well as colleagues. 

UCLA professor Lucia Re will kick off the series on March 20 with “The Power of Two,” a lecture that will take the theater-based collaborations of the artist Gabriele D’Annunzio-Eleonora Duse as a starting point. Attention will also be devoted to numerous artistic couples of Italy’s fascist-era and some post-World War II artists and writers. 

As Kittler notes, “I hope that through the series, a different picture might emerge of a movement, one that although inescapably male dominated has been shaped by other voices.”

When: beginning March 20, 12pm EST (series continues into May)
Where: online at Magazzino Italian Art

See Magazzino for more info 

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Dessane Lopez Cassell

Dessane Lopez Cassell is a New York based editor, writer, and film curator, as well as the former reviews editor at Hyperallergic. You can follow her work here.