A landmark exhibition and auction of key works of Arte Povera takes place this February at Christie’s London. Eyes Wide Open: An Italian Vision features the most important private collection of Arte Povera ever to be shown in the UK, exploring the movement’s roots in the work of Post-War Italian artists Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Fausto Melotti and its flowering in the works of artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Alighero Boetti, Mario Merz, Luciano Fabro, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, Giuseppe Penone and Emilio Prini.
This collection also investigates Arte Povera’s legacy in the work of artists as diverse as Cy Twombly, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, Tony Cragg, Rosemarie Trockel and Thomas Schütte.
Arte Povera artists filled galleries with animals and decaying matter decades before Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. With its idea that humble ‘poor’ everyday materials – both natural and man-made – can be transformed into powerful, evocative works of art, Arte Povera transformed the landscape and language of contemporary art in the late 1960s and 70s and has become one of the most influential art movements of the past half century, exerting a profound impact on art around the world, including conceptual art, minimalism and the YBAs.
Mariolina Bassetti, chairman Christie’s Italy, international director, post-war & contemporary art, said: “Following our huge success in last October’s Italian Sale, a record for any of these sales in their 15-year history, Christie’s is pleased to be offering this exceptional private collection – the best collection of Italian art I have ever seen come on the market. Never before have we seen a private collection that shows the ‘before and after’ of Arte Povera in such depth – its roots in Burri and its huge legacy to succeeding generations of artists around the world, from Cy Twombly and Anish Kapoor to Thomas Schütte and Olafur Eliasson. It has been assembled with passion and rigour by an Italian couple over 25 years.”