When Italy Met Britain And Poor Art Became Richer

Poor Art | Arte Povera, Estorick Collection ★★★☆☆

When Italy Met Britain And Poor Art Became Richer Poor Art | Arte Povera, Estorick Collection 3
Michelangelo Pistoletto's work show us reflected in among the TVs - very true for today's society. Image copyright Mazzoleni.

A ladder rests against a wall but all its rungs are missing. We now have an object that has lost its function and is a typically humorous work by artist Ceal Floyer.

This exhibition is looking at the Italian art movement Arte Povera (literally 'poor art') and how it has influenced British Art in the 50 years since its first exhibition. Arte Povera itself was a loose movement that used everyday objects to create art, which was a radical idea at the time. It's so commonplace in today's contemporary art world, heavy with conceptual work, that it's a lot easier to dismiss it now.

Tony Cragg's runner is made up of found plastic pieces. Image courtesy the artist.

Televisions on a mirrored background by Michelangelo Pistoletto was first made in the 1960s but bears a lot of relevance today, in a world obsessed with fame and celebrity culture. A trouser leg forms a cannon and unsightly potatoes are cast in bronze to give this humble root a sense of permanence and grandiosity.

A ladder loses all functionality without its rungs, but makes a fun work of art by Ceal Floyer. Image courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery.

The influence of Arte Povera is too vast to cover in one exhibition as its influence can be felt in so much contemporary art, however there are some fun and surreal works in this show that make it an enjoyable and thoughtful visit.

Poor Art | Arte Povera: Italian Influences, British Responses is on at Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, N1 2AN until 17 December. Tickets are £6.50 for adults and include admission to the permanent collection.

Last Updated 02 October 2017