The exhibition, untitled at the time of cancellation, consisted of four galleries. Installation design by Triple Candie.

Gallery 1

The entry gallery would have consisted of a museum-style introductory wall statement by the curators outlining the show’s thesis.

Gallery 2

This gallery would have contained a timeline from 1967-2011 charting the evolution of the meaning of the term “arte povera” in articles, exhibition catalogues, and books; an encyclopedic wall contained hundreds of photo-reproductions of artworks arranged in strategic clusters representing the movement (many altered by the curators), and a vinyl quote by the art historian Bettina Ruhrberg that read,

“It was not clear which artists and works could be described as the products of Arte Povera, nor what distinguished their works from each other and what they had in common, and it was similarly unclear whether the term should be understood in terms of style, of an epoch, a group phenomenon, or something different.”


The hallway to the third gallery was to be lined with portraits of fourteen “arte povera” artists, presented as exhibition posters. The photo-portraits have been embellished by the curators. Above the portraits would have been a declaration from Michelangelo Pistoletto from 1969 that reads,

“We do not belong to, we are not part of, and we do not accept the term arte povera.”

Gallery 3

The largest gallery would have included a dozen inaccurate sculptural surrogates made by the curators of works by artists including Giovanni Anselmo (three versions of Untitled, 1968, using cinderblocks instead of granite block), Lucio Fabro (a recreation of one of the three elements in 3 Ways to Put the Sheets, 1968), Jannis Kounellis (based on Untitled, 1969; 34 rocks, half-dipped in white rather than black paint), and Mario Merz (an generic Merz-like igloo constructed from a standard-issue dome-top hunting tent), and Michelangelo Pistoletto (a mirror piece made from a piece of plywood covered in mirror foil). Many of the alterations were based on alterations made to reproductions in the previous gallery. The surrogates would have been presented as unattributed. On one wall was to be a quote from Giuseppe Penone,

“Arte Povera isn’t actually the name of a group. And what’s more, the progress and the history of the artists involved in it . . . were very different.”

Another wall might have included a quote by Pino Pascali,

“For me, these are fake sculptures . . . I’m interested in seeing this sort of farce that the exhibition is.”

Gallery 4

A long, slender gallery in the back was to be devoted to the life and work of Germano Celant. Honorific in spirit and mimicking a regional history museum, it would have contained a facsimile of the critic’s desk and computer, a desktop model of the Guggenheim Museum, posters with the text “The Bilbao Effect,” samples of Celant’s writing, and a book-shelf displaying the covers of dozens of Celant’s books—on arte povera, Anish Kapoor, Gerhard Richter, Anselm Keifer, Piero Manzoni, Louis Bourgeois, Kaws, Rebecca Horn, Joel-Peter Witkin, among them.


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