Rich Exhibit Offers 'Arte Povera'

Christie’s London is presenting an exhibition and auction 'Eyes Wide Open': An Italian Vision. This is the most important private collection of Arte Povera ever to be shown.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will be bidding on these fine artworks.

The sale explores the movement’s roots in the work of Post-War Italian artists Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Fausto Melotti and its flowering in the works of artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighero Boetti, Mario Merz, Luciano Fabro, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, Giuseppe Penone and Emilio Prini.

With its idea that humble ‘poor’ (povera) everyday materials – both natural and man-made – can be transformed into powerful works of art, Arte Povera transformed the language of contemporary art in the late 1960s and 70s, becoming one of the most influential art movements of the past half century.

Carefully assembled over the past 25 years by an Italian couple, this single-owner collection encompasses 109 powerful works by a vast range of celebrated artists. The couple even wrote a text for every work that talks of their emotions in acquiring each work.

The term Arte Povera was coined by the Genoese critic Germano Celant in his 1967 catalogue and exhibition ‘Arte Povera – Im spazio’ ("Poor Art -- In space")

It had a profound impact on artists around the world, from Cy Twombly and Anish Kapoor, to Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, as well as on a younger generation of Italian artists like Maurizio Cattelan, who decided to make art after seeing a mirror self-portrait by the Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto.

To reflect the museum-quality nature of this collection, the ‘Eyes Wide Open’ exhibition and auction are accompanied by a scholarly catalogue.

Christie’s will also stage an international tour of highlights from the collection in Turin, Milan, New York, Dallas, Chicago and London.

Historic Highlights

A highlight of the collection is Lei e Lui – Maria e Michelangelo by Michelangelo Pistoletto, a key member of the Arte Povera movement (estimate: £600,000- 800,000).

This life-sized, double-portrait ‘mirror-painting’ depicts the artist and his life-long companion and artistic collaborator Maria Pioppi facing each other in an act of intimacy and union.

It also reflects the intimate relationship of the collectors and their passionate search for art. Executed at the beginning of 1968, this work was a centerpiece of one of Pistoletto’s most famous exhibitions at the Galleria L’Attico, Rome, in 1968.

Further highlights of the sale include a monumental shaped canvas by Pino Pascali entitled Torso di negra al bagno (estimate on request), a mesmerizing totem of femininity that appears to have erupted from the floor.

Another key work is Luciano Fabro’s striking sculpture Piede (Foot), with its startling contrast between a giant, claw-like polished bronze foot and its thin, light, towering column of radiant blue silk reaching to the ceiling (estimate: £800,000-1,200,000).

The Italian Post-War section of the sale includes iconic work by Alberto Burri, a major influence on Arte Povera.

His work explores materials and their transformation through processes such as chemical reactions or burning, as in his Combustione plastica. Burri, who also influenced international artists such as Rauschenberg and Tapies, will be the subject of a major retrospective at the Guggenheim, New York in 2015.

Boetti Map

Alighiero Boetti, the subject of a major survey in 2012 at Tate Modern, the Reina Sofia and MoMA NY, is represented by several important works, including his Mappa from 1979 (illustrated above, estimate: £450,000- 650,000) – part of the famous series of embroidered world maps that he made between 1971 and 1994 in partnership with Afghan women weavers living in Kabul and later as refugees in Peshawar - are the best-known and most-loved of all his works.

Exhibition and auction view at Christie’s Mayfair: 5 -14 February, 2014.
Auction at Christie’s King Street: 11 February, 2014