Halifax and Oxford, UK

Michelangelo Pistoletto

Museum of Modern Art Oxford / Henry Moore Foundation Studio

Did arte povera really exist? So asked critic and curator Dan Cameron in a bold 1992 article. Was it a bona fide, intellectually and aesthetically cogent “movement” (whatever that might be)—or was it a very successful critical ploy to bruit the talents of some loosely related Italians with a conceptual or post-Minimal bent, on a world stage largely dominated by US stars? Last fall, the UK’s Italian Festival 1999 showcased work by arte poveristi Alighiero e Boetti at the Whitechapel (see Schwabsky, p. 115) and Michelangelo Pistoletto in Oxford and Halifax, plus Mimmo Paladino at the South London Gallery and Lucio Fontana at the Hayward (see Shone, p. 113)—reminding UK audiences of the Italian neo–avant-garde’s fascinations, and breathing air into questions like those above.

At least on the basis of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s volume Arte Povera (Phaidon, 1999), it seems fair to summarize

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