Contemporary artists take on Arte Povera masters at Luxembourg & Dayan

“Common” objects become extraordinary in this new exhibition

Untitled (Occhio di Dio) by Pier Paolo Calzolari
Untitled (Occhio di Dio) by Pier Paolo Calzolari | Image: Jason Wyche

Postwar Italian art and contemporary culture collide at Luxembourg & Dayan where, from October 23 until December 16, Contingencies: Arte Povera and After will explore the relationship between today’s artists and the Arte Povera – or “impoverished art” – movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Thief in the Night by Olga Balema
Thief in the Night by Olga Balema | Image: Veli-Matti Hoikka

On the 50th anniversary of the movement that celebrated the use of common materials, Luxembourg & Dayan’s New York townhouse gallery will be transformed by the works of seminal Arte Povera artists including Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali and Michelangelo Pistoletto – as well as by contemporary makers Olga Balema, Elaine Cameron-Weir, Jason Loebs and Carlos Reyes. The common thread throughout the works on view is transience of material and form ­– often on a molecular level.


Just as the original Arte Povera artists questioned the political turmoil of the day, so do the contemporary artists in the show. Among the standout works for sale (from $5,000-$750,000) will be Pier Paolo Calzolari’s Untitled (Occhio di Dio), a 1971 assemblage of tobacco, neon, a transformer and a candle, and in complete contrast, Olga Balema’s Thief in the Night (2016) – a mixed media work comprised of the artist’s signature tulle, latex and steel materials. Jason Loebs’ Untitled (2014) is a monochromatic work on canvas that employs thermal grease in lieu of paint – that then “leaches” heat from the viewer.

Mobili capovolti by Michelangelo Pistoletto
Mobili capovolti by Michelangelo Pistoletto | Image: Luxembourg & Dayan

The exhibition is not limited to hanging works, and Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Mobili Capovolti – a leather armchair and mirror sculpture from 1976 – and Carlos Reyes’ We Give Back Credit from 2015 both take centre stage in the intimate Upper East Side gallery space. Each of these works incorporates simple materials in unexpected ways – in the case of Reyes’ installation, the unlikely combination of an oscillating industrial fan, an aircraft cable and a round of bread.

Untitled (We give back credit) by Carlos Reyes
Untitled (We give back credit) by Carlos Reyes | Image: White Flag Projects, St. Louis

“I would like to make it known that I want expansion, democracy, madness, alchemy, insanity, rhythm, horizontality,” said Arte Povera artist, Pier Paolo Calzolari.  You can almost hear the cheers from those artists here working today.


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