Arte Povera to take over grand halls of Blenheim Palace

13th June 2016

​Arte Povera was an art movement that seemed to sweep through a number of towns and cities across Italy during the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, largely driven by artists with increasingly radical stances and ideas.

Translated literally as "poor art", Arte Povera took on a number of establishment institutions in government, industry and culture.

Now, one of its founding fathers is to see his work squat the impressive grand halls of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Michelangelo Pistoletto has been a hugely celebrated figure not just within the movement, but in the art world as a whole, exhibiting his work in some world-famous spaces, including the Serpentine and the Louvre.

Now he is to create a number of new pieces, which will take over Blenheim’s towering double-height great hall, sitting alongside some retrospective works covering over half a century of art.

Surrounded by history

It is a grand backdrop for what is an art form that takes pride from its humble origins, which see pioneers like Pistoletto turn otherwise innocuous everyday objects into extraordinary pieces of art.

Following on from Ai Weiwei in 2014 and Lawrence Weiner last year, this will be the third contemporary art exhibition to take place at the Blenheim, which dates back to the 18th century and is even listed as a World Heritage site.

The site covers around seven acres and contains a 55-metre-long library, plenty of space for what promises to be Pistoletto's most comprehensive UK exhibition yet.

Michael Frahm, curator and director of the Blenheim Art Foundation described the artist as a  “a counter-cultural figure who questions society and explores philosophy through a body of work which is witty, poetic and always unexpected."

He added: “Pistoletto’s powerful career has been a major influence on contemporary art and modern thought."

Pistoletto himself appears to be well aware of the historical significance that such surroundings will offer.

He said in September: “I am very pleased to be presenting a comprehensive show of my work within a place brimming with history, tradition, and craft.

“I look forward to seeing my art in an entirely new context.”

The works to feature in the exhibition include the artist's mirror works, where photographic images are silkscreened onto polished steel, in a bid to reflect the viewer and create a unique spectacle.

Other notable pieces include the Venus of the Rags, a cast of a statue that harks back to the the classical nude figures so prevalent in the artist's native Italy.

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