Arte Povera On Camera

Giuseppe Penone, “Rovesciare i propri occhi”

The times were a changin’ back in the sixties (as Bob Dylan famously sang). And in Italy, Arte Povera artists embodied that spirit of change using new materials and ideas that challenged how people thought about art. “Renverser Ses Yeux” (autour de l’arte povera 1960-1975) at Paris’ Jeu de Paume and a companion exhibition at Le Bal revisit those artists exploring new narrative possibilities for photography, video and film (until Jan 29, 2023).

The term Arte Povera was coined by art critic Germano Celanti in 1967 to describe young Italian artists —such as Marisa Merz, Givanni Anselmo and Michelangelo Pitoletto—attempting to create a new sculptural language by using unconventional everyday materials and “found objects” in their works. Described as more of an attitude than a movement, their art captured the “down with the establishment” spirit of the times

In the mid-1960’s many artists began using photography, film and later video to establish a more direct, exploratory and experimental connection with the world. As an example, Franco Vaccan described “Photography as action, not contemplation.” And a new kind of gallery emerged in Italy hosting ephemeral performance-style events with photographers such as Ugo Mulas and Claudio Abate collaborating with artists becoming part of the creative process. Piero Manzoni said: “Our whole culture changed. And it was not just a matter of seeing differently, we saw other things…”

The exhibition title “Reversing One’s Eyes” is a reference to Giuseppe Penone’s slide show (pictured above) of the same name “Rovesciare i propri occhi” (1970) featured in the exhibition.

“Renverser Ses Yeux,” Jeu de Paume, Place de la Concorde and Le Bal, 6, Impasse de la Défense, Paris 18e, until January 29, 2023.