Valerio Adami (b. 1935)
Enrolled at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milano at the age of 16, where he studied painting from 1951 to 1954. Made his first trip to Paris in 1955, where he met Wifredo Lam and Roberto Matta who were to have a seminal influence on him. His works, which are related to American pop art, often include portraits of famous people, for instance James Joyce, Sigmund Freud and Gustav Mahler. First solo exhibition held in Milan in 1959, and since then has exhibited frequently throughout the world. In 1985, a solo exhibition was dedicated to Adami at Musée National d´Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Valerio Adami lives and works in Paris.
Vincenzo Agnetti (1926–1981)
Studied art in Milan. A pioneer of radical Italian conceptual art in the circle around Galleria Azimut. One of his projects was to perform experiments by writing aphorisms from notebooks on Bakelite boards. With his textual works Agnetti wanted to explore how new forms and perspectives could be generated using text. Also worked with photography and performance art. Participated in Documenta, Kassel (1972), the São Paulo Biennale (1973), and the Venice Biennale (1980). In spring 2008, MART Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, will be featuring the first retrospective exhibition of Agnetti’s work.
Giovanni Anselmo (b. 1934)
Creates works exploring the fundamental rules and laws of physics, such as the earth’s magnetic field, different forms of energy and gravity. In 1967, participated in Germano Celant’s legendary exhibition Arte povera. Im spazio, at Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa and Collage I at Genoa University. Opened his first solo exhibition in 1968 at Galleria Sperone in Turin. In Senzo titolo (1968) a small rock had been tied to a large granite boulder: a head of lettuce is wedged between the rocks, and if the lettuce wilts the small stone will fall, shifting the inherent relationship in the work. The list of galleries where Anselmo’s works have been shown includes Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1968), Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York (1968), Documenta, Kassel (1972), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporàneo, Santiago de Compostela (1995), Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice (1996), and Tate Modern, London (2001). Giovanni Anselmo lives and works in Turin.
Getulio Alviani (b. 1939)
Began experimenting in the late 1950s with perception and visual psychology in his art. His works from 1959–1960 consist mainly of metal and give the illusion of movement depending on the viewer’s position in the room. Makes frequent use of industrial materials, including plastic since 1961, after which he participated in numerous exhibition with Arte programmata (Umberto Eco’s name for a group of artists working principally with kinetic and op art) in Venice, Düsseldorf and London. In the mid-1960s, Alviani started producing large installations and spatial designs incorporating mirrors and other materials. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1986 and 1993. Getulio Alviani lives and works in Milan.
Rodolfo Aricò (1930–2002)
Studied art and architecture at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan in 1950–1955 and had his first solo exhibition in 1959. Influenced by Italian informal art, pop art and minimalists such as Frank Stella and Donald Judd. In 1964, he participated in the Venice Biennale and it was around this time that his characteristic idiom began to emerge. Aricò’s works are typically anti-symmetric, and he likes to play with optical illusions, frequently employing monochrome layers of paint and shaped canvases, a technique that has become emblematic for his art. In the 1980s and 1990s, several major exhibitions of Aricò’s works were organised, including Rodolfo Aricò: Myth and Architecture, Mantua (1980), and the exhibition 1960/1985: Aspects of Italian Art, that toured to Frankfurt, Berlin, Hannover, Bregenz and Vienna (1986). Aricò’s works have also been featured at the Venice Biennale in 1964, 1968, 1986 and 1995.
Enrico Baj (1924–2003)
Fled to Geneva in 1944 to evade military service in Mussolini’s army. After the end of the Second World War, he studied law at Milan University and art at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. Founded the group Arte Nucleare in 1951 together with Sergio Dangelo and Gianni Dova. And in 1954 he founded the group Mouvement International pour une Bauhaus Imaginiste, together with Asger Jorn. In the 1960s, Baj made his anti-militarist “Generals” – collages portraying absurd characters incorporating objets trouvées such as belts, buttons and medals. He mixed with the pioneers of the surrealist and dada movements. Together with Man Ray, for instance, he founded the Pataphysical Institute in Milan in 1963. His works have been shown widely, for instance at the Venice Biennale in 1964, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1971), and Musée d’Art Contemporain, Nice (1998).
Gianfranco Baruchello (b. 1924)
A film-maker and artist, and a pioneer of Italian avant-garde film, Baruchello was strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp. In the spirit of Duchamp, his breakthrough, La Verifica Incerta from 1964 (made by combining images from American PR photographs) challenged the issue of who is the rightful originator and the rules of artistic creation. The subjects of his paintings are usually small figures, details from comic books, words and fragments of pictures. His work is characterised by his striving to ban logical narratives in favour of emphasising the space between language and image. Baruchello’s works have been shown at Documenta, Kassel in 1977, and at the Venice Biennale in 1976, 1988 and 1993. Gianfranco Baruchello lives and works in Rome.
Alighiero Boetti (1940–1994)
Conceptually oriented artist who applied a variety of media, including drawing, embroidery, photocopying and telegrams. From 1971, he collaborated with Afghan and Pakistani craftsmen to produce his series of works, Mappe, world maps where each country is embroidered in the pattern of its flag. In the early seventies, he began signing his works “Alighiero e Boetti” (Alighiero and Boetti). The signature highlights the dualism of his work: the individual versus the collective, order versus chaos, and so on. In 1967, he had his first solo exhibition at Galleria Christian Stein, and participated the same year in Germano Celant’s Arte povera. Im spazio at Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa. In 1969 he took part in Harald Szeemann’s exhibition Live in your head: When Attitudes Become Form, Bern/Krefeld/London. His works have also been shown at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969), Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin (1996), Tate Modern, London (2001), and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2002).
Agostino Bonalumi (b. 1935)
An autodidactic artist, although he attended Istituto Tecnico Industriale in Milan and other schools in the mid-fifties. Made friends in Milan with Lucio Fontana and was a regular visitor at Enrico Baj’s studio, where he also met Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. During this period he embarked on exploring the potential of the canvas, with convexities and concavities, shadow effects, etc. In 1958, Bonalumi, Manzoni, Castellani exhibited together, just before launching the periodical Azimuth. Soon after, they opened a gallery with the name Azimut, that was closed down in 1960. From the 1970s, he began producing larger works and also engaged in stage design and costumes for theatre and ballet. He participated in the Venice Biennale in 1986. Agostino Bonalumi lives and works in Milan.
Arturo Bonfanti (1905–1978)
Studied at Scuola d’Arte Applicata Andrea Fantoni in his home town Bergamo in the 1920s. Moved to Milan in 1926, where he began as a graphic artist. Had his first solo exhibition in Bergamo in 1927. In 1946–1952, travelled extensively to Paris, Zurich, Munich and London, where he met European artists who became close friends and inspired his further work. In his art he developed a characteristic abstract and geometric style. Many of his graphic works were produced in Atelier Lafranca in Swiss Locarno, where he made frequent visits to Jean Arp and other artists. Back in Milan, he created kinetic works, in addition to making short films. In 1954, his film La chiave di Calandrino was awarded the Prix du Film des Marionettes at the Cannes Film Festival. He also engaged in theatre, while pursuing his art and exhibiting in Europe and the USA. Bonfanti’s works were featured at the Venice Biennale in 1968 and at the São Paulo Biennale in 1969.
Cameraphoto was a Venetian photographic agency working for important international magazines, such as Life, Time, Epoca. It was active from the end of the forties to the mid-eighties, documenting all editions of the Venice Biennale from 1948 to 1986. Its photographs feature the prominent Italian and foreign artists who appeared on the art scene, including the generations presented in this exhibition: the photographers have also documented the public recognition of the new generations, and Cameraphoto became a sort of archive of international art presented in Italy. In 2004, in a project coordinated by Luca Massimo Barbero, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Modena acquired some 14,000 negatives from Cameraphoto.
Enrico Castellani (b. 1930)
Studied art at the Académie des Beaux-Arts and architecture at École Nationale Supérieure in Belgium. Met Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana in Milan and soon came in contact with Yves Klein and the German artist group ZERO. Exhibited with Manzoni and Agostino Bonalumi in Milan in 1959. Started the periodical Azimuth with Manzoni, with whom he later opened the gallery Azimut. His most famous works, Superficie Nera, are monochrome canvases with a relief surface achieved by using a nail, to create effects of light and shadow. Participated in seminal exhibitions such as Monochrome Malerei, Leverkusen (1960), The Venice Biennale (1966), and Documenta, Kassel (1968). In 2001, an exhibition was compiled by Germano Celant featuring Castellani’s work from 1958 to 1970 at Fondazione Prada in Milan. Enrico Castellani lives and works in Celleno.
Enrico Cattaneo (b. 1933)
Studied sciences in Milan and began photographing in 1955, focusing at first on reportage and social documentation. He became professional photographer in 1963; since then, he has devoted himself almost exclusively to documenting artworks for painters, sculptors, architects, galleries and publishers. His photographs have been shown in more than 40 solo exhibitions and have been reproduced in numerous monographs and catalogues for artists all over the world. They demonstrate his unique approach to contemporary sculpture, from Marcel Duchamp to site-specific installations. Another creative side of his work is shown in his experimental conceptual work. Enrico Cattaneo lives and works in Milan.
Gianni Colombo (1937–1993)
Studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan from 1956 to 1960. Belonged to the circle of artists around Galleria Azimut in Milan, which included Piero Manzoni. Was co-founder in 1960, along with Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gabriele de Vecchi of Gruppo T, with links to Arte Programmata and Nouvelle Tendance. Inspired by new technology, he created kinetic works incorporating mechanical works and neon light, an experimental film with Vincenzo Agnetti and several environments focusing on a re-definition of conventional experience of space. In 1968, he participated in Documenta, Kassel, and was awarded a prize at the Venice Biennale. From 1970, Colombo’s art assumed architectural features and he focused on in-depth studies of kinetic art. In 1985, Colombo was appointed principal of Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, where he also taught. His works have been shown at museums and biennials all over the world, including MoMA in New York, Stedelijk in Amsterdam and the Venice Biennale in 1964, 1968 and 1972.
Studied medicine but never worked as a doctor. Instead, began painting, strongly influenced by the work of Fontana, Manzoni and Castellani. Became acquainted with Manzoni and exhibited at Galleria Azimut in the early 1960s. In 1962, participated in the exhibition Nul at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Helped start the Nouvelle Tendance movement, which included the artist Bruno Munari. Between 1965 and 1970, created geometric works that eventually led her to create a 16-letter alphabet, which she defined as an “alphabet of the mind”. Her works have been shown at the Venice Biennale (1980 and 1990), at the Stiftung für konstruktive und konkrete Kunst, Zürich (1996) and at Museum Bochum (2000).
Lucio Del Pezzo (b. 1933)
Studied fine art and crafts at Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples. Was a founder member in 1958 of Gruppo 58 in Naples, a movement with links to Enrico Baj and Movimento Arte Nucleare in Milan. Also participated in starting the periodical Documento – Sud. Encouraged by Baj, he moved to Milan in 1960. Later lived in Paris in 1964–1979. For the 13th Triennial in Milan in 1964, he produced a joint work with Baj, Lucio Fontana and others. Works by Del Pezzo were exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1964. In 1984, he was appointed professor at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan. Lucio Del Pezzo lives and works in Milan.
Luciano Fabro (1936–2007)
His early works were inspired by phenomenological questions. In Il buco (1963) he exhibited a mirror where parts of the reflective surface had been scratched off to achieve a merging of the space in front of and behind the mirror. Fabro’s first solo exhibition was at Galleria Vismara, Milan, in 1965, as part of the section on Arte povera in Germano Celant’s exhibition Arte povera. Im spazio in 1967. He was influenced by the unconventional materials used by Kounellis, Paolini and Pascali, an inspiration that is manifested, for instance, in his series Piedi (1968–1971), sculptures made of marble, murano glass, metal and silk. Also participated in Arte povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi (1968), Processi di pensiero visualizzati: Junge Italienische Avantgarde, Kunstmuseum Lucerne (1970), The Venice Biennale (1972) and Documenta, Kassel (1972). Has been featured in solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1992), Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1996–1997), and Museo Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro (1997).
Lucio Fontana (1899–1968)
Born in Argentina. Studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan and had his first solo exhibition in 1930 in this city. Worked with ceramics in Italy and France before founding the radical art school Altamira Academy in Buenos Aires a few years later. Formulated his theories on art, technology and science which resulted in his Manifesto Blanco. Later on also launched Movimento Spaziale and published Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo in 1947. Frequently called his formal experiments Concetti spaziali. 1949 was a pivotal year. Fontana embarked on his first series of paintings with punctured canvases, Buchi, and Ambiente spaziale a luce nera, his first spatial installation. In the subsequent decade he produced his most famous paintings, Tagli, monochromes where the canvas is slit with a razorblade, creating real spatial dimension. He later extends the concept of Concetto spaziale to include a series of terracotta sculptures, Natura, which are also cast in metal. Fontana’s works have been shown widely, including at the Venice Biennale in 1958 and 1966, where he was awarded first prize for his monochrome installation, at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1967), Documenta, Kassel (1968), Musée National d´Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1987), Tate Modern, London (2005), and the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2006).
Marco Gastini (b. 1938)
Graduated from Turin Accademia di Belle Arti in 1960. In 1965–1967 worked mainly in oil and spray paint, focusing on the themes of fragmentary landscapes and details of female bodies. In 1968, eschewed figurative motifs and instead painted on plexiglas hung at a distance from the wall. Works from this period are somewhere in between painting and object. In the 1970s, he began incorporating materials from nature, such as wood or stones. In 1982, Gastini exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and the same year the first retrospective exhibition of his works opened at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich. Marco Gastini lives and works in Turin.
Piero Gilardi (b. 1942)
Started working as an artist and curator in 1963. Travelled extensively in Europe and the USA and soon became a key figure for other artists as a link between the art scenes. Wrote in the magazine Flash Art in 1967–1968 and introduced artists such as Bruce Nauman, Joseph Beuys, Jan Dibbets and Richard Long to the Italian audience to. In 1965, produced his first Tappeti Natura, a polyurethane carpet that was a hyperrealist imitation of nature. His skepticism against the increasingly commercialised art scene, together with his political convictions, prompted Gilardi to abandon art in the 1970s. Instead, he chose to work in psychiatry, reverting to art only sporadically. Gilardi’s works have been shown at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and were featured in the exhibition Zero to infinity: Arte Povera 1962–1972, Tate Modern, London (2001). Piero Gilardi lives and works in Turin.
Giorgio Griffa (b. 1936)
After a first period of artistic studies, Griffa graduated in law before he returned to painting and had his first solo show in Turin in 1968. Won acclaim in the 1970s for his abstract paintings where the subject is reduced to a minimum. Decided to do away with the stretcher when painting, in order to retain as much as possible of the character of the underlying surface. Used materials such as uncoated paper and canvas made of cotton, flax or hemp. His mode of painting is also characterised by formal simplicity, reflecting his wish to apply a style that could be associated with anyone. Since 1968, he has had some 100 solo exhibitions, exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and GAM in Turin in 2001–2002. Giorgio Griffa lives and works in Turin.
Paolo Icaro (b. 1936)
Early in his career he produced abstract, symmetrical sculptures. Was included in the Im spazio section of Germano Celant’s exhibition Arte povera. Im spazio in 1967 and continued to exhibit regularly with the Arte Povera artists until the end of the 1960s. His works gradually moved towards being conceptual actions or happenings. In 1968, for instance, he repaired a damaged corner of a building on the Amalfi plaza as a project for an exhibition. At Op losse schroeven: Situaties en cryptostructuren, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969) and Live in your head: When Attitudes Become Form, Bern/Krefeld/London (1969) he participated with process-related works with a lifespan adjusted to the duration of the exhibition. In 1987, he had a solo exhibition at Galleria Civica in Modena. Paolo Icaro lives and works in Tavullia.
Piero Manzoni (1933–1963)
Started painting at 17 and was soon creating radical art exploring the boundaries of the painted surface. Influenced by Lucio Fontana, Manzoni published a manifesto in 1956, Per la scoperta di una zona di immagini (Towards the discovery of a zone of images). In 1957 embarked on his series of Achrome, the most famous of which are white canvases covered with glue and liquid kaolin. In 1959, Manzoni showed his Linee (line painting). The same year, he and Enrico Castellani started the periodical Azimuth, followed by a gallery with the name Azimut. In 1960, Manzoni created his longest line painting ever, in Herning, Denmark, only to stage one of his most famous manifestations, a few weeks later in Milan, Consumazione dell’arte dinamica del pubblico divorare l’arte (The consumption of art, the dynamic of the audience, eating art). In 1961, he signed people for the first time, certifying that they were Sculture viventi (living sculptures) and created some of his most famous works, Merda d’artista (Artist’s shit), Base magica (Magic base) and Socle du monde (World’s plinth), placed in Herning. Manzoni died in his studio in 1963, aged merely 29. His works have been shown widely, including at Städtisches Museum, Leverkusen (1960), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1962), LACMA, Los Angeles (2004), Tate Modern, London (2005), and MADRE, Naples (2007).
Fabio Mauri (b. 1926)
Early in his artistic career, Mauri made expressive paintings with religious and political themes. Towards the end of the 1950s, affiliated himself with the artists in the group Scuola di Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Started painting monochromes and created his first Schermi (screens) in 1957. These works were followed by large installations. In 1970, he went back to his political theme repertoire. In Venice he produced Ebrea in 1971 by remodelling the gallery into a small museum over a concentration camp, and at the Venice Biennale in 1974 he performed Che cosa é il Fascismo (What is fascism). The work was repeated in New York in 1979 and in Prato in 1993. Mauri has had solo exhibitions at De Appel, Amsterdam, (1979) and Galleria Nazionale d´Arte Moderna, Rome (1994). His group exhibitions include Teatro delle Mostre at La Tartaruga Gallery, Rome (1968) and the Venice Biennale (1974 and 1993). Fabio Mauri lives and works in Rome.
Fausto Melotti (1901–1986)
Studied engineering and music, taking an interest in art at an early age. Studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. In 1932 he began teaching sculpture at Scuola del Mobile di Cangù. Two years later, he joined the circle of abstract artists around Galleria del Milione, and in 1935, he had his first solo exhibition at the gallery. Began working with light, flexible materials such as brass in 1959, often combining them with textiles. In the 1960s and 70s, his sculptures were characterised by this lightness. Melotti’s works have been shown at galleries, museums and biennials all over the world. He was featured at the Venice Biennale in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1966, 1972 and 1986. At the Biennale in 1986, which opened the day after Melotti’s death, he was posthumously awarded the Golden Lion.
Marisa Merz (b. 1931)
Since the 1960s, Marisa Merz has been exploring the relationship between art and life in sculptures, drawings and installations made of materials such as blankets, wax, salt, clay and copper and nylon thread. Her works relate to the space and the body. In Senza titolo (1966) she assembled a large quantity of pliable aluminium strips to create a sculpture suspended from the ceiling that worms itself around the room in all directions. In 1968, she knitted a pair of shoes out of nylon thread that, like many of her works, she installed in a variety of settings, both indoors and outdoors. Her first solo exhibition was held at Galleria Sperone, Turin, in 1967. Since then, Merz’s works have been shown at various venues, including Op losse schroeven: Situaties en cryptostructuren, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969), Arte povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi (1969) and a solo exhibition at Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1994). She participated in the Venice Biennale in 1972, 1976, 1980, 1986 and 1993, and in Documenta, Kassel, in 1982 and 1992. In 1998 her work was featured in Moderna Museet’s exhibition Wounds: Between Democracy and Redemption in Contemporary Art. Marisa Merz lives in Turin and Milan.
Mario Merz (1925–2003)
Initially, painted in an organically inspired style in the 1950s, but moved on to installation art after a few years. Defined the artist’s basic purpose as being a nomad, moving from place to place in search of a home and constantly working in relation to new sites and settings. In 1968, he created Igloo di Giap, the first in a series of archetypal abodes that were to become characteristic of his oeuvre. In these transient constructions made of glass, metal, earth, branches and neon, he processed fundamental elements of human existence such as the need for protection and nourishment, and man’s relationship to nature. In 1969–1970, he started experimenting with the ideal of growth in nature based on the Italian mathematician Fibonacci’s universal sequence of numbers, where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. The first group exhibitions in which Merz participated include Arte povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi (1968), Prospect 68, Düsseldorf (1968), Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, Bern/Krefeld/London (1969), and Documenta, Kassel (1972). Merz’s art has also been shown at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1972), at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1983), the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1989), Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Trento (1995) and in the exhibition Wounds: Between Democracy and Redemption in Contemporary Art at Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1998).
Aldo Mondino (1938–2005)
His work combines image, language, play and humour in a way that is reminiscent of dada and Marcel Duchamp. One example is the work Sei Giotto (1963), consisting of pencils of the brand Giotto, where he plays with the double-meaning of the word sei – the number six and “you are” in Italian – and with references to the Italian master. Mondino incorporates sweets in several of his works, for instance Caramelle (1968), Rosa di zucchero (1972) and Torre di Torrone (1967). His first solo exhibition was in 1965 at Galleria Christian Stein in Turin. Mondino was one of the contributors to the Con temp l’azione exhibition in 1967, a collaboration between the galleries Il Punto, Sperone and Christian Stein in Turin. Later works by Mondino often include references to the Far East and its esoteric use of shifting signs and meanings. His works were featured at the Venice Biennale in 1976 and 1993.
Marcello Morandini (b. 1940)
Studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan. Applies his geometric imagery both as an artist and a designer. In 1957–1962, worked as an industrial designer and with graphic design in Milan. Started his own advertising company in 1962. In 1967, exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial and in 1968 at the Venice Biennale. Also produced his first three-dimensional work that year. Throughout the 1970s, Morandini exhibited frequently in Germany and participated in Documenta, Kassel, in 1977. Since 1980, he has also been involved in architecture and urban planning. Marcello Morandini lives and works in Varese.
Carlo Nangeroni (b. 1922)
Born in New York, but living in Italy since 1926, Nangeroni studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera and Scuola Superiore di Arte Cristiana Beato Angelico in Milan from 1938 to 1942. Returned to New York in 1946 to embark on an artistic career and was inspired by American painting, especially by abstract expressionism. His first solo exhibition was held in New York in 1949. In New York he also worked for the NBC TV network on opera and theatre productions. Moved back to Milan in 1958, where he devoted himself exclusively to painting. In his work he developed a geometric imagery that has dominated his oeuvre since then. Has taught design at the Scuola Politecnica in Milan since 1973. The list of exhibitions of Nangeroni’s works includes the Esso Gallery in New York and Villa Croce Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Genoa. Carlo Nangeroni lives and works in Rome.
Ugo Nespolo (b. 1941)
Studied at Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti in Turin. Exhibited at Il Punto, Turin, and Galleria Schwartz, Milan. Beginning in the late 1960s, he made experimental films featuring colleagues such as Lucio Fontana and Michelangelo Pistoletto. When Pistoletto wheeled his work Palla di giornali through the streets of Turin in 1967, Nespolo filmed the event, and this documentation was later to become one of his most famous works. In the mid-1970s, embarked on experiments with new techniques and materials. In 1990, produced an advertising campaign for Campari, followed by the décor and costumes for plays and operas. Nespolo’s works have been exhibited at Villa Croce, Genoa (1986), Palazzo Reale, Milan (1990), Palazzina Azzura, San Benedetto del Tronto (1998) and Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Paris (2003). His films have also been screened at Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. Ugo Nespolo lives and works in Turin and New York.
Mario Nigro (1917–1992)
His first solo exhibition was in 1949. In the early 1950s, he developed his characteristic geometric imagery, influenced by music and perception theory. In 1952, produced his first pieces from the cycle Spazio totale, which came to be his most famous series of works. In 1964–1970, started creating spatial installations, including a large installation with wall and floor sculptures, which he exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1968. Was also featured at the Venice Biennale in 1993, with works from the early 1950s. His other exhibitions include Il miraggio della liricità: arte astratta in Italia, Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm (1991), Die andere Richtung der Kunst. Abstrakte Kunst Italiens ’60–’90, Cologne (1997), a major retrospective at Institut Mathidenhöhe, Darmstadt (2000) and Omaggio a Mario Nigro, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2006).
Gastone Novelli (1925–1968)
After fighting in the resistance during the Second World War and graduating in Political and Social Science, Gastone Novelli started painting in 1947. In 1948–1954, he worked mainly in Brazil. Returned to Rome in the late 1950s and joined forces with Emilio Villa, Corrado Cagli and Archille Perilli. Together with Perilli founded the experimental magazine L’esperienza Moderna in 1957. Meanwhile, he began to take an interest in American art and became acquainted with Cy Twombly. Novelli continued throughout the 1960s to explore the relationship between text and painting and published several books. In 1966–1968, he became increasingly committed to social issues. Participated in the Venice Biennale in 1968 and, along with many other artists, decided during the opening to close his room in protest against the police presence at the Biennale.
Guilio Paolini (b. 1940)
Began in the early 1960s to explore the conceptual dimensions of art. In his work Senza titolo from 1961, Paolini placed a tin of white paint inside an open wood frame before covering the entire composition with transparent plastic, presenting the materials that are commonly used to produce art as a work of art in themselves. Paolini is one of the most conceptually oriented artists within Arte Povera, and has also focused on the relationship between viewer and object, using photography and plaster casting in his installations to prompt questions about original and reproduction. Had his first solo exhibition at Galleria La Salita in Rome in 1964 and participated in all the principal Arte Povera exhibitions. His works have also been shown at the Venice Biennale (1970), the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1974), Documenta, Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982 and 1992), Villa Medici Academy of France, Rome (1996) and Tate Modern, London (2001). Guilio Paolini lives and works in Turin.
Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947)
Explores the relationship between man and nature. In the work Alpi marittime (1968) he made changes and subtle interactions in the forest surrounding his home. In the 1970s, Penone embarked on an artistic exploration and mapping of his own body. One of his most well-known works is the performance Rovesciare i propri occhi (1970), for which he had special mirror lenses made, which turned him temporarily blind while the world was reflected in his eyes. His first solo exhibition was held at Deposito d’arte presente, Turin in 1968. He has also participated in group exhibitions such as Konzeption–Conception in Leverkusen (1969), Processi di pensiero visualizzati: Junge Italienische Avantgarde, Lucerne (1970), Documenta, Kassel (1972) and Tate Modern, London (2001). He has also had more extensive solo shows at Kunstmuseum, Lucerne (1977), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1984), Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota (1997), Musée National d´Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004), and at the Venice Biennale (2007). Giuseppe Penone lives and works in Garessio.
Gianni Piacentino (b. 1951)
Studied philosophy at Turin University in the mid-1960s and started making varnished wooden statues at around the same time. These works explore colour theories, crafts and the boundary between sculpture and design. Piacentino soon joined the circle of Arte Povera artists and took part in the group exhibitions Arte Abitabile at Galleria Sperone, Turin (1966), Con temp l’azione at Galleria Sperone, Il Punto and Christian Stein, Turin (1967), Arte Povera Galleria De’ Foscherari, Bologna (1968), and Arte povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi (1968). Alongside his artistic career, he began in 1970 to do paintwork on motorcycles and took part in races. His works have been featured at Documenta, Kassel, in 1977, and at the Venice Biennale in 1993. Gianni Piacentino lives and works in Turin.
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
Began his artistic education in his father’s paint workshop, where he started working at the age of 14. Enrolled a few years later at Armando Testa’s school of advertising. Had his first solo exhibition at Galleria Galatea in Turin in 1960. His first mirror paintings, Quadri specchianti, are from the period 1961–1962. Here, the viewer’s own reflection is incorporated in the work. These came to form the basis for Pistoletto’s artistic oeuvre and theories on art. In the mid-1960s, he created a series of works titled Oggetti in meno, which were seminal for Arte Povera. Pistoletto was one of the key figures of the movement, both as an artist and as a spokesman. His works have been shown at numerous exhibitions, including Arte povera + Azioni povere, Amalfi (1968), Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, Bern/ Krefeld/ London (1969), Documenta, Kassel (1982, 1992, 1997) and Tate Modern, London (2001). In 2003, Pistoletto was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for his life oeuvre. Michelangelo Pistoletto lives and works in Biella.
Carol Rama (b. 1918)
Autodidactic artist from Turin. Claims that she began painting in 1933 to heal herself and to express her fears. Her unconventional paintings often have an erotic undercurrent. In 1936–1940, produced a number of autobiographical drawings and watercolours. In the 1940s, devoted herself mainly to a style of painting that could be characterised as art informel. Her work was first exhibited in 1945 at Galleria Faber in Turin; three years later, she exhibited at the Venice Biennale. Rama collaborated with the Movimento Arte Concreta group in the 1950s, and began in the 1960s to incorporate objects such as corks, animal claws and tyre parts in her works, calling them “bricolages”. Her works have been exhibited at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1998) and at the Venice Biennale in 1948, 1950, 1956, 1993 and 2003, when she was awarded the Golden Lion. Carol Rama lives and works in Turin.
Giovanni Ricci (b. 1935)
A professional photographer since 1954, documenting contemporary art since 1958, photographing artists, artworks, exhibitions, meetings, performances. Giovanni Ricci lives and works in Milan.
Emilio Scanavino (1922–1986)
Studied architecture in Milan in 1942–1943 and worked at the Municipal Administration in Genoa after the Second World War. His first exhibition was in 1948 at Galleria Isola in Genoa. Decided in 1950 to devote himself entirely to painting and had a major breakthrough that year at the Venice Biennale. In 1951–1952, he worked at Mazzotti’s ceramic studio in Albisola, which also hosted artists such as Fontana and Baj. In 1952–1956, he was professor of drawing at the Academy of Art in Genoa. Participated again in the Venice Biennale in 1954, 1958, 1960 and 1966. Exhibited at Documenta, Kassel, in 1958. Major Scanavino retrospectives have been held in Florence at Palazzo dei Congressi (1984–1985) and in Genoa at Villa Croce (1987). His last exhibition was at Quadriennale d’Arte in Rome in 1986.
Paolo Scheggi (1940–1971)
Trained at Istituto Statale d’Arte and Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. Between 1958 and 1960 made works out of sheet metal. In 1961, moved to Milan, where he met other local artists, including Alviani, Bonalumi, Castellani and Manzoni. In 1962, Lucio Fontana presented an exhibition of Scheggi’s work in Bologna. The ensuing years he devoted to experiments on the boundary between art and design, creating interiors and urban environments and producing magazines and poetry. His late works approached performance and theatre. He participated in exhibitions such as XXI Salon des Realitées Nouvelles at Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (1966), the Venice Biennale the same year and also exhibited in 1967 at Museo Sperimentale d’Arte Contemporanea and Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin. From 1968 he was involved in numerous theatrical productions in Milan, Bologna and Florence.
Gilberto Zorio (b. 1944)
Studied at Accademia di Belle Arti in Turin, where he initially focused on painting but soon moved on to sculpture. Showed three-dimensional works at his first solo exhibition at Galleria Sperone in Turin in 1967. Early in his career he was fascinated by the catharsis of physical and mental energy, as in the work Colonna from 1967, a cylinder filled with cobalt chloride and a gypsum mixture that shifts colour from pink to blue and back again, depending on the humidity of the air. The degree of change depends on the number of people in the room, and many of his early works have elements of instability. Zorio exhibited frequently at Arte Povera exhibitions and became one of the figureheads of the movement.. Zorio’s works have been shown at Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York (1968), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1969), Documenta, Kassel (1972), Musée National d´Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1986), the Venice Biennale (1995), Galleria Civica d’Arte Contemporanea, Trento (1996) and Tate Modern, London (2001). Gilberto Zorio lives and works in Turin.