Antonio Sanfilippo's is a much less reter- ential abstraction, built with patchcs ot color of varying formai rigor, and Giulio Turcato, who was also exhibiting with the Fronte Nuovo, had achieved the greatest distance from rcpresentation. Theirs, however, was an internai dissolution, with mdividual artistic agendas diverging and personal matters — Piero Dorazio's leavnig for America, Achille Perilli's military service, and the death of sometime member Goncetto Maugeri — intervening.
It was significantly less abrupt, artificial, and extcrnally induced than that of the Fronte Nuovo. Already by , Fontana was calling for an elaboration of painting and scuipture beyond their forniulas and boundaries. Noteworthy as some of the earliest installation work in postwar Italy, these also niaintained two points of focus that would prove lasting and durable into later decades: an embracing of industriai and inechanical technology and a persistent questioning of the necessity of the structural integrity of the art object.
Holes, shafts, and the illusory solidity of light becanie Fontana's niaterials, entering into the discourse a radically de- centered notion of the materiality and behavior of painting. The Spatialist project was, at its inost successful, a prescient break from the normative practices of painting. By decades end, Fontana was joined by others, ali ot whom enacted their own breaking through the boundaries of the medium.
Consistent among these was a turn to the sculptural, whether through an actual mampulation of the painted supporr, or through a hybridizarion ot painting with an external process or material. Perhaps best known among these are Piero Manzoni s Achromes. The clear differences with Fontana's practice notwithstanding, Manzoni similarly modulates painting towards "the material heterogeneity rendered inert in modernist painting.
Fontana and Vedova are of an earlier generation. Manzoni and Bonalumi were significantly younger born and 1 and their emergence retiects an overlapping of generations that would move Italian art away from the primary thrusts of lates 96 ADRI. DURAN and earlys into the more open and aggressively experiniental lates and early-iy This transition is of fundaniental iniportance as it synthesized the innovations of the earher period, aniplifying their proniinence, and incubating the idcals and strategies that would prove centrai to arie povera and the generation of Bonaluniis work at the end of the f s ni not entuely unlike Manzoni's.
Canvases are punctured by wood and cenient, as it growing out froni within the weave of the canvas.
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C'iallena Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome. These were followed, in the first years of the s, by nionochronie canvases with slight, bulbous protuberances, organized in regular grid patterns and others with rhythniic undulations and pinches that reniind one of flirniture upholstery. Bonalunii's constructions main- tain the sovereignty of the hanging, rectilinear support, but their sculptural skeletons and rolling, bulging surfaces exist in a dialogue beyond painting, dose to the sculptural but adequately described by neither. At the dawn of the s his career undenvent a substantive change of direction, largely the result ofa collaboration with composer Luigi Nono on the opera Intolleranza His scenography tor Nono's Intolleranza i included mobile spheres, suspended geometrie screens, portable screens carried by the actors, and tracked platforms onto which Vedova projected painted and manipulated slides and tilms.
Newly present in this scenographic work is the inclusion of direct references to contemporary Europe, derived froni Angelo Ripellino's libretto. Most importantly, the Reliefs of the earlys, though stili bound to the limitations of the Hat, quadrilateral support, niark Vedova 's break into three-diniensional construction. Constructed of broken, slashed, and charred pieces of wood, bolted and lashed together with ropc and wire salvaged from the embankments of the Spree, Spandau, and around Karl-Marx-StraBc, the plurimi are opened up on the floor.
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Ikilinisclic '. Viewers are invited to inanipulate the plurimi, enacting the inultiphcity froiii which they take their nanie. Their surtaces are eticrusted with paint, pierced, and plastered with collaged print media, and often interspersed with recognizable glyphs. They carry the scars of war — the niilitaristic decrep- itude and discontinuity of Bedin itself.
Though perhaps not an intuitive pairing. Vedova s production during these years bears a certain kinship to that of Manzoni who vvas siniulta- neously enacting his own radicai departures froni the liniitations of High Modernisni. Fn-st, both left behind the Hniitations of the fiat, quadrilat- eral support in favor of a mobile, dimensionai practice that embraced both temporahty and the body of the viewer.
This niobiUty ot medium, forni and existence would prove one ofthe cornerstones of later endeavors.
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The fugitive, ironically, may have been the most consistent variable in Manzoni's career, and was most evident in his later works, which ofFer a set of breakthroughs centrai to the developments in art of the later s. Foremost amongst the fugitive in Manzoni's production is the object itself Broken eggs, marker washed off ofthe body, and deflated balloons ofthe artist's breath ali speak to the insistence upon degradation embedded in these works. The work is often organic or, at times, takes on the behaviors ofan organism.
Bound to this is the centrality oftem- porality. Each work exists as such tor a tinite period of time and, though a certain residue remains, each will inevitably dissipate. Furthermore, Manzoni's works ali prompt a questioning ofthe credibility ofthe artist, particularly in relation to the accessibility of any evidence ofthe physical existence ofthe work.
It is his given and perceived credibility that trans- forms eggs and bodies into works of art, imbues a wooden base with powers to do the sanie, and allows the whole ofthe Earth to be absorbed as a single sculptural object placed unwittingly upon its own base. Moreover, it is this credibility — and the attached certificate declaring authenticity, a concept which itself becomes remarkably slippery — that convinces the viewer that the length of line contained within a canister is as described and that tiiis of feces are wortli tlieir weiglit in gold.
The dcbt to Duchaiiip notwithstandiiig, Manzoni's may have been the most revolutionary practice to that point, if not at ali, in postwar Italy. His dcath in 1 96 1 abbreviated what may have been a long career, but his breakthroughs, along with those of his contemporaries, opened the ter- rain for the navigations that would emerge with iute povera.
The niap of Itahan postwar art was reoriented, with Turin and Genoa rising in importance and Rome being reinforced as a center of indisputable importance. Though not unprecedented — one could quickly cite F. He claimed a focus on contingency, events, ahistoricisni, the prcsent And, when paired with the Works of these young artists, this moment certainly would appear to be the onset of something entirely new and ditferent.
It is criticai, however, to reassert the developments ot the previous decades when assessing the novelty ot arte povera. By no means is this to diminish its innovations, which were substantive in light ot these sanie previous decades, but instead to recalibrate our understandmg ot what these final years of the s meant within a larger temporal span. As one Comes to understand the totality of arte povera it is unavoidable to recognize the incubation of many of its tactics in earlier projects.
Furthermore, the actual or potential changeability of Ciiovanni Anselmo's sculptures, which eat salad, absorb atmosphenc moisture, and struggle against the energies of torsion, and the works of Pier Paolo Calzolari, Gilberto Zorio, and Jannis Kounellis, ali of which harness and activate chemical and physical phenomena, bear some debt to Manzoni's fugitive and organic work at the beginning of the decade.
Installation, a favored tactic of Kounellis and Pistoletto, also has its roots in earlier work, particularly during the moments in which the viewer becomes an activator ot or participant in the work.
The difference of ideologica! World War II had ceased to be doniinant in the politicai maturation of these artists, giving way to the war in Vietnam and the mach opened social discourses of the period. The lates were an intellectual landscape dominated by the new ideas of Eco, Lippard, and the Frankfurt School, much apart from those ofTogliatti and Marshall Pian Europe. Methodologically, this brief, albeit monumentai, moment of has always found itself positioned as the point of departure from which postmodernism emcrged in Italian art.
This is certainly a credible and demonstrable argument. As such, however, what is often lost is the way in which historical periods are not marked by explicit beginnings and endings, but rather fade into and out ot one another, depositing sedi- nient upon which new foundations are laid.
Departures, particularly in the history ot art, are rarely sudden and unforeseen. Their identification is often retrospective, and this backward looking reveals not only what new has emerged, but also how that which is at one point fullv formed is at a previous point embryonic and developmental. With this awareness, it does US well to consider as not simply the moment at which Italian art of the previous decades is overtaken, but also the moment at which its seeds finally blossom and begin to germinate.
The ideas in this paper are the result of a nuniber of conversations, discussions, and collaboratioiis with niany exciting and wonderfully supportive scholars and colleagiies. Their expertise has been of great benefit to this work. Clurrendy, the niost accessible and thorough resource on iiitc poi'cni is Carolyn Chnstov-Bakargiev, ed.. Arre povera. London: Phaidon Press Lunited, iy9y.
Italian art liad attained some notice on an interna- tional scale. For an overview, and contemporary, recounting ofpostwar Italian art, see Tristan Sauvage [Arturo Shwarz, pseud. A useful introduction in English, contemporary vvith the h'roiite Nuoro itself. Roderigo di Castiglia [Palmiro Togliatti, pseud. The manifesto was published in Forma 1, Rome, March Parma: Cjalleria d'Arte Niccoli, In the "Second Manifesto of Spazialismo," Fontana and the other signers called for "the painting to come out from its fraine and the sculp- ture from its beli jar. Germano Celant.
NewYork:Tlie Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Luca Massimo Barbero. This penod of Vedova 's production has been tracked, most recently, by Ursula Prinz. Die Schetikunq iUi die Berliiiisclie Galcric. Berlin: Berlinische Galerie, Kelly Wacker. Cambridge Scholars Press, S. These included references to anti-Fascist demonstrations in Italy, the Algerian revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the war in hidochina, John E Kennedy, and a recent tloodmg of Italy 's Po river as vvell as phrases such as "Two-thuds of liberation" and "Spain, tragic and sweet.
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Sciitti e colloqui. Angela I. Milan: Ricordi-LIM, Celant, in Christov-Bakargiev Soprattutto nel corso del si ciaranno anche 'situa- zioni' di intervento locale [ Ci riferiamo, senza nessunissima intenzione di sovrapporre e ancor meno far coincidere tutte le complicanze ideologiche, concettuali e libellistiche che nei due casi si vanno assumendo, a una parte, invero cospicua, delle opere nate nell'ambito di quella poesia visiva, anche chiamata, in sue particolari diramazioni, poesia tecnologica che si va costituendo a partire dal Diviene norma l'assunzione generalmente seppure non necessariamente critica, polemica, ironica di materiali e moduli ricavati dalle manifestazioni tecnologiche, di massa.
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