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Arte Povera and the Baroque

Building an International Identity

Laura Petican

This book explores the social history of contemporary Italian art with a focus on its relation to theories of national identity, cultural inheritance, and baroque historiography. Its scope encompasses Fascism’s involvement in the visual arts in the first half of the twentieth century and the regime’s deployment of the avant-garde as well as Italy’s interwar cultural isolation and Informale’s experimental works. The analysis of the «baroque-centric» vision of Arte Povera in the post-war era leads into the discussion of Italian artists’ relation to the cultural past. The baroque is employed as an historical, conceptual model involving notions of nature, space, tension, theatricality, time, materials and the senses, and is used to trace the trajectory of Italian art’s evolution in style and ideology in the twentieth century. The book examines the work of Arte Povera artists in the context of a persisting alternation between tradition and revolution and provides an alternate reading to analyses rooted in a materials-based interpretation.


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List of Figures 11


11 List of Figures 1. “Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World,” Installation, Walker Art Centre, 1966. Photo Credit: Eric Sutherland for Walker Art Center, Minne- apolis. 2. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Basket of Fruit, c. 1596. Oil on canvas, 46 x 59 cm. Photo Credit: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 3. Giovanni Anselmo, untitled (Struttura che mangia [Structure that Eats]), 1968. Granite, lettuce, copper wire. Galerie Sonnabend, Paris, 1969. Photo Credit: © Paolo Mussat Sartor. Courtesy Archivio Anselmo, Torino. 4. Pietro da Cortona, The Trinity in Glory, 1647-51 (dome), and Assumption of the Virgin, 1655-60 (apse); view of interior. Rome, Chiesa Nuova, Santa Maria in Vallicella. Photo Credit: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 5. Giovanni Anselmo, Piccola torsione (Small Torsion), 1968. Cement, leather, wood, 72 x 86 x 86 cm. Photo Credit: Raimund Koch, New York. Courtesy Sammlung Goetz. 6. Gianlorenzo Bernini, David, 1623-24. Marble, 170 cm. Photo Credit: An- drea Jemolo/Scala/Art Resource, New York. 7. Gianlorenzo Bernini, Apollo and Daphne, 1622-25. Marble, 243 cm. Photo Credit: Alinari/Art Resource, New York. 8. Luciano Fabro, Penelope, 1972/2001. Needles, silk thread, dimensions va- riable. Photo Credit: Luciano Fabro; © Silvia Fabro, Archivio Luciano e Carla Fabro, Milano. 9. Gianlorenzo Bernini, The Ecstasy of St. Teresa, 1645-52; altar. Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Cornaro Chapel. Marble, figures lifesize. Photo Credit: Scala/Art Resource, New York. 10. Luciano Fabro, Lo spirato – Io rappresento l’ingombro dell’oggetto nella vanità dell’ideologia. Dal pieno al vuoto senza soluzione di continuità (The deceased – I represent the encumbrance of the object in the vanity of ideo-...

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