If you have never heard of Arte Povera, don't worry you are not alone. A relatively unknown avant garde art movement that came out of Italy in the last half of the 20th century takes precedent at a new public space. Organized and orchestrated by Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick, the collectors of the work, created Magazzino, which loosely in Italian translates to "warehouse". A short trip out of New York City to a small town called Cold Spring leads to a 20,000 square foot space purely dedicated to this art movement. 400 pieces make up the collection, supplemented by 5,000 of library and archive items. This impressively large collection offers the opportunity at a comprehensive view of this mysterious art form.
Arte Povera can be understood as a "loose knitting of individual artists", more so than an actual movement, that was coined "poor art" because of the raw or non-art materials the artists were using. Seen above, Michelangelo Pistoletto's Stracchi Italiani (2007) is the Italian flag made out of cut rags. A literal example of "poor art" that showcases a very intentional message. Arte Povera was established during a time of political radicalism in Italy, in which the artists had an awareness of their major art legacy, but were also eager to showcase a new form of Italian art that rejected the then institutions of government and culture.. Similar to the Renaissance and the stand against the Papacy centuries earlier, these artists were producing art that called into question ideals of the establishment.
With these concepts in mind, Arte Povera was centered on the everyday. The works usually featured simple materials with traces of nature and industry, a loss of complex symbolism and messaging, and a focus on creating a art culture that lacked a systematic definition. These artists were mainly proponents of the idea that art should be the everyday, and thus art just becomes life.
The Olnick Spanu Collection features many of the largest figures of this movement including MIchelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis, Marissa and Mario Merz, and Pier Pablo Calzolari. In this act of advocacy for the movement, Olnick and Spanu aim to merely bring a thorough survey of Arte Povera to the art public with this free space. Among the ongoing events throughout the city this summer, this is a must see!