“Una visione globale”: Arte Povera’s Worlds

March 21 - May 2, 2020
Magazzino Da Casa


Alighiero Boetti, Mappa, 1983, embroidery on fabric. Photo by Marco Anelli.

As part of its spring season, Magazzino Italian Art Foundation presents "Una visione globale": Arte Povera's Worlds, a four-part lecture series exploring new insights into Arte Povera. The series embodies Magazzino’s enduring commitment to creating new opportunities for scholarly research and critical assessment of Italian Postwar and Contemporary Art. Organized by 2019-20 Scholar-in-Residence Tenley Bick, the series convenes leading scholars and curators in the field to explore the work of Arte Povera artists, its critical reception, and relevance to contemporary art—both in Italy and the United States.

In February 1968, on the eve of May ’68 and the associated Italian “hot autumn” of 1969, in his catalog essay for an exhibition at the Galleria de’ Foscherari in Bologna, Italian art critic and curator Germano Celant wrote of “una visione globale” (a global vision) and “rapporto globale” (global relationship) as distinguishing characteristics of Arte Povera, the primarily Italian avant-garde of the late 1960s and early 1970s he first named in the fall of 1967. A largely forgotten element of Celant’s theorization of the movement, Arte Povera’s “global vision” is readily apparent in the work of many its artists: Alighiero Boetti’s world maps, embroidered by Afghani and Pakistani women; Mario Merz’s iconographic references to nomadism in his igloo structures; Michelangelo Pistoletto’s sculptural Mappamondo or globe, made of papier-mâché and wire; Jannis Kounellis’s assemblages of ship parts and materials associated with transit and migration; Giovanni Anselmo’s Direzione (Direction) stone sculptures embedded with compass elements; and Pino Pascali’s material and iconographic references to the sea and earth, among others. Arte Povera’s “global vision” was also evident in Celant’s curatorial agenda for the movement. From 1968 to 1970, Celant mounted large exhibitions and publications that included American and non-Italian European artists alongside Arte Povera’s Italian contingency, internationalizing Arte Povera and positioning the movement in a global artistic context.

While this “global vision” was fundamental to the theorization of Arte Povera and many of its artists’ works, Arte Povera has for the most part been regarded as a national, Italian phenomenon. With an eye to these lesser-known “global” elements of Celant’s text, this lecture series revisits Arte Povera’s “worlds,” and those of related Italian artists in the late 1960s and 1970s in Italy. With specific attention to cultural geopolitics of the period, the lecture series addresses models of internationalism and globalism in and around Arte Povera, including but not limited to: its engagement with trans-geographical sociopolitical movements such as terzomondismo, Marxism, and socialist humanism; models of artistic nomadism and migration; Arte Povera’s many natural, planetary, and cartographic references; and international exhibitions such as Arte Povera + Azioni Povere (Amalfi, 1968).

As a precautionary measure during this time of increased vigilance, Magazzino Italian Art will be closed until further notice. We will be expanding our digital programming during this period, including streaming our entire lecture series, which will be accessible on our Instagram and website (on this page) on the dates listed below.

Details on how to access the lectures online:

Each lecture will be streamed with a live introduction on Instagram at 3 p.m. by Magazzino Italian Art Director Vittorio Calabrese, and Tenley Bick.

The lecture will be available for viewing at 3:15 p.m. on the dates listed below, and can be accessed by going on our Instagram profile. The video will also be accessible from our website (on this page), and a link directing you to it will be posted each Saturday.

At 4 p.m., there will be a live streaming of a Q&A led by the lecturer, moderated by Tenley Bick. We encourage those joining us during the Instagram Live Q+A to ask questions.

Should additional schedule changes be necessary, we will be updating our website and social media, including our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts.  

Additional details on each program and lecturer follow below:

Ezio Gribaudo and Arte Povera: Parallel Tracks from Turin to the World (1966–1972)   

Victoria Surliuga, Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Italian Program Coordinator, and World Cinema Coordinator, Texas Tech University

March 21, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Victoria Surliuga explores the life and work of Turin-based artist and publisher Ezio Gribaudo, winner of the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966. A contemporary of Germano Celant, Gribaudo worked closely with many key figures of modern art from around the world, including Marcel Duchamp, Peggy Guggenheim, Joan Miró, and Francis Bacon, among others. Mirroring Celant’s endeavor to turn Arte Povera into an artistic trend with a global impact, Gribaudo had a keen interest in expanding the international scope of his artistic and editorial work. Belonging neither to Arte Povera nor any school, Gribaudo’s work is nonetheless essential to a more thorough understanding of contemporary Italian art.

Live Q&A with Victoria Surliuga and Tenley Bick.

Pino Pascali: Between Arte Povera and the Mediterranean

Valérie Da Costa, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History, University of Strasbourg

April 4, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Valérie Da Costa addresses the concept of “the Mediterranean” in the practice of Italian artist Pino Pascali. Pascali’s work across a range of materials—including water, mud, fake fur, and steel wool—led to a reconceptualization of sculpture as a medium, as well as the exhibition as a space. Focused on the artist’s sculptural turn to the Mediterranean in 1967 and 1968, this lecture offers a re-reading of Pino Pascali’s work based on anthropology and critical texts of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ernesto de Martino, and Pier Paolo Pasolini within the historical context of the beginning of Arte Povera. Da Costa’s research focuses on Italian art in the second half of the twentieth century.

Live Q&A with Valérie Da Costa and Tenley Bick.

Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Comizi (1965­–1966): Pop, Protest, and Politics in Early Arte Povera

Tenley Bick, 2019–20 Scholar-in-Residence, Magazzino Italian Art; Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art, Florida State University

April 18, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Tenley Bick examines Michelangelo Pistoletto’s quadri specchianti (mirror paintings) through investigation of his understudied Comizi (Rallies) series, inspired by the political climate and tumultuous context of mid-1960s Italy. By shedding light on the Comizi and related works’ navigation of Italian labor politics, American Pop, and the cultural geopolitics of the transatlantic context of the early Cold War, this lecture introduces the Comizi as the birthplace of Arte Povera and proposes a new model of political figuration in the 1960s, repositioning understanding of the mirror paintings and the history of postwar Italian and European art.

Live Q&A with Tenley Bick and Adrian Duran.

Salt and Copper: Stratified Questions and Replies from an Interview with Jannis Kounellis

Chris Bennett, Assistant Professor of Art History/Contemporary Art, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

May 2, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Chris Bennett explores Arte Povera artist Jannis Kounellis’ production through a transnational lens. Based on an interview with the artist conducted in New York City in 2013, the lecture focuses on four insights generated by the discussion, ranging from Kounellis’ self-described “discovery” of an ongoing global “logic” for his work, to his global and conceptual enactment of artwork as perpetually “unfinished.” Drawing on Kounellis’ frequent allusion to themes of migration and transit in his work, Bennett offers new insights to the broader history of Arte Povera through close examinations of specific works and sets out to connect Arte Povera’s very founding, as a configuration, to the broader terrain of international contemporary artistic practice.

Live Q&A with Chris Bennett and Tenley Bick.

About Tenley Bick

Tenley Bick is Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art at Florida State University and the 2019–20 Scholar-in-Residence at Magazzino Italian Art Foundation in New York. In addition to her work on Arte Povera and Italian art of the 1960s and 1970s, her research addresses postcoloniality, interventionist practices, and the legacy of countercultural aesthetics in contemporary Italian art. Her book in preparation, entitled Where There’s Everything: Michelangelo Pistoletto and World-Building in Arte Povera, examines models of world-building in Pistoletto's work and Arte Povera within the politicized cultural contexts of post-WWII Italy and Europe, and against the geopolitical horizon for art of the 1960s. Her publications have appeared in Third TextAfrican Arts, and in the volume Theorizing Visual Studies: Writing Through the Discipline (eds. J. Elkins and K. McGuire, et al.). Her translation work has also been published, appearing in the catalog for the internationally traveling exhibition, Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 (eds. M. Kwon and P. Kaiser). She has received major fellowships from Magazzino Italian Art and the Institute of International Education, and has recently presented her work on Pistoletto at the Center for Italian Modern Art (New York) and the Bibliotheca Hertziana–Max Planck Institute in Rome. She holds an MA and PhD in art history from UCLA, and a BA with Honors in Art History from Stanford University.

About Victoria Surliuga

Victoria Surliuga is Associate Professor of Italian Studies, Italian Program Coordinator and World Cinema Coordinator at Texas Tech University. She is a scholar of modern and contemporary Italian art, cinema, and literature, as well as a poet and a translator. She was awarded The 1905 Fellowship of the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association for her research on Peggy Guggenheim and art patronage, a grant to the Italian Program at Texas Tech University from the CH Foundation to curate the exhibition Ezio Gribaudo’s Theaters of Memory at the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts (2016), Scholarship Catalyst Grants from Texas Tech University, and was Humanities Fellow at the Humanities Center of Texas Tech University. She has also curated two other exhibitions on Ezio Gribaudo at Texas Tech University: Ezio Gribaudo: Life and Art (2019), Ezio Gribaudo: A Lifetime in Art (2018). Her publications on Gribaudo include five books: Ezio Gribaudo’s Seashells (Pistoia: Edizioni Gli Ori, 2019), Ezio Gribaudo: Enchanted Archaeology (Pistoia: Edizioni Gli Ori, 2018), Landscapes by Ezio Gribaudo (Torino: Archivio Gribaudo, 2018), Ezio Gribaudo: My Pinocchio (Pistoia: Edizioni Gli Ori, 2017), Ezio Gribaudo: The Man in the Middle of Modernism (New York and London: Glitterati, 2016; First Place President’s Faculty Book Award, Texas Tech University, for 2017–2018). www.victoriasurliuga.com.

About Valérie Da Costa

Valérie Da Costa is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History at the University of Strasbourg. Her research focuses in particular on Italian art. She is the author of numerous texts and books including: Ecrits de Lucio Fontana (Paris: Les presses du réel, 2013), Pino Pascali: retour à la Méditerranée (Les presses du réel, 2015), Fabio Mauri: le passé en actes / The Past in Acts (Les presses du réel, 2018), “Arte Povera, hier et aujourd’hui,” Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, n. 143, ed. Valérie Da Costa (Spring 2018). In 2019, she received the Research Travel Grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art for her new research on Paul Thek in Italy (1962–1975).

About Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett is Assistant Professor of Art History/Contemporary Art at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He completed his Ph.D. with a focus on the production of Boetti and Pascali and art since 1945, more broadly, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2008. He has held research fellowships at the American Academy in Rome and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Now working on an ongoing book project on the Italian Arte Povera group—he has recently published essay chapters in the peer-reviewed edited volumes Postwar Italian Art History Today: Untyingthe Knotand Breaking with Convention in Italian Art, and, in collaboration with the Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana, the exhibition catalog Sandra Eula Lee Make of/Make Do, Yun-Fei Ji Looking for Lehman Brothers (2017–18). He presented research at the CAA National Conference in New York in February 2019 focused on the art of Franco Angeli as part of the panel “Public Monuments and Sculpture in Postwar Europe.”