Opening October 23rd, 2017 in New York, Luxembourg & Dayan is presenting a special semi-centennial exhibition celebrating the Arte Provera movement titled Contingencies: Arte Povera and After. An Italian art movement that rose during the 60’s and 70’s (mainly in Turin), Arte Povera questioned ordinary life systems such as government, culture and technology. Ignited by a disapproval of these systems, the group of nearly three-dozen artists sought to dissect the systems through redefining objecthood and interrupting information flow. The group turned to commonplace belongings and found materials for expression. Items such as rocks, chairs and clothes became the profound language of rebellion and resistance (think upside down leather chairs with a mirror affixed to the underside or a statue choosing an outfit from a monumental 13 foot wide pile of garments).
The sociopolitical climates between the 60’s and 2017 are not dissimilar. A shared resistance has given the platform for artists then and now to unite through reaction and creativity. Whether you’re a Trump supporter or not, the timing is undeniable. The exhibition gives place for dialogue exploring present day conflicts while picking up on the same conversations 50 years earlier. The relationship between the past and the present sets the stage for a dynamic show bridging the turmoil by rejecting the accepted, using unconventional processes, and achieving freedom from the commercialized art system. It’s often through the unusual landscapes that the viewer is asked to abandon what they know and think differently. After all, that’s what art is about, right?
Although a widespread, non-cohesive group of artists, the Arte Povera movement pioneered an arching attitude of change, creating major shifts in the use of materials and their contexts. Mainly sculptural in form, the artwork is representative of tensions to modernism, American minimalism, and the decline in popular abstraction of time. Translating literally to ‘poor art’ or ‘impoverished art,’ Arte Provera enjoyed concentrations in craft, alchemy, truths and functionality. It was a response to the increasing technology and productivity — not too different from the rejection of dense technology that we see today.
Centering as the opposition, the group turned away from their own world of contemporary, choosing to critique their generation and surroundings in search of life with less turmoil. The critique that emerged from a growing globalization environment enacted visual dichotomies between the artificial and authentic, the factory and the homegrown. With technology seeping into every activity (who doesn’t own a phone, laptop, TV and tablet these days?), the dialogue could not be more relevant. Contingencies enables the viewer to reflect on and explore these revolutionary works highlighted by a past era and now, brought to a full circle by present day New York artists.
The exhibition features celebrated artists including: Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Pino Pascali, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and their contingencies: contemporary artists Olga Balema, Jason Loebs, Carlos Reyes and Elaine Cameron-Weir.
Critically acclaimed for its program dedicated to Italian artists and contemporary culture, Luxembourg and Dayan’s Contingencies: Arte Povera and After will be on view until December 16.