Germano Celant Arte Povera Champion Dies From COVID19 Aged 80

Germano Celant

Germano Celant (1940-2020) the Italian art historian, critic and curator who coined the term ” Arte Povera ” (poor art) in 1967 has died from complications due to the COVID19 virus, age 80.

The Italian artists were going for a humanism in their art – GC

Celant attended the University of Genoa, where he studied history of art with Eugenio Battisti. In 1963 he worked as assistant editor for Marcatrè, a Genoa-based magazine about architecture, art, design, music and literature founded by Rodolfo Vitone, Eugenio Battisti, Paolo Portoghesi , Diego Carpitella , Maurizio Calvesi, Umberto Eco , Vittorio Gelmetti and Edoardo Sanguineti . In 1967, his manifesto of Arte Povera, Notes for a Guerilla , was published in Flash Art . The concept of Arte Povera seemed to be that in Italy art was quite different from Americadue to the different circumstances at the time. Italy was going through an industrial period but was not really making the pop art that coincided with the established economy as opposed to American artists like Warhol , Robert Rauschenberg , and other pop artists. The Italian artists were going for a humanism in their art and not for the coolness and calculated machine-made imagery of the pop artists.

“Arte Povera” was essentially formed around two nucleus: one in Turin , with artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto (who has also contracted the virus)  , Mario Merz , Marisa Merz , Giuseppe Penone , Giulio Paolini , Giovanni Anselmo, and Piero Gilardi; and one in Rome , with Alighiero Boetti , Jannis Kounellis and Pino Pascali . Celant went on to organize Arte Povera exhibitions at Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa (1967), Galleria De ‘Foscherari in Bologna (1968), and a three-day performance event called “Arte Povera & Actions Poor at Amalfi” (1968 ).

In 1974, Celant edited and curated the Catalog Raisonné of Italian artist Piero Manzoni . He curated many exhibitions on Italian art, including “Identité italienne. L’art en Italie depuis 1959” (Center Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1981), “Italian art, 1900-1945” ( Palazzo Grassi , Venice, 1989; with Pontus Hultén ), and “Italian Metamorphosis 1943-1968” (Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1994). In 1997, he was the director of the Venice Biennale and in 2004, he curated the exhibition “Art and Architecture” in Genoa when the city was nominated European Capital of Culture. From 1977.

In 1988, Celant was appointed Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City .

From 1993 on Celant served as Artistic Director of the Prada Foundation in Milan , which began as PradaMilanoarte that year. Under his leadership, the foundation over the years presented shows of Walter de Maria , Louise Bourgeois , Anish Kapoor , David Smith , Michael Heizer , Sam Taylor-Wood , and Steve McQueen , among others, in Milan and Venice. In conjunction with the Venice Biennale 2009, Celant organized the second major survey of John Wesley , at the boarding-school buildings on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. His 2012 show “The Small Utopia. Ars Multiplicata” at Ca ‘Corner della Regina, Venice, tackled the issue of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and how artists from Marcel Duchamp to Andy Warhol have used multiplication of various sorts. It contained over 600 items, produced between 1900 and 1975, and included design, ceramics, glassware, textiles, films, magazines, books, and sound recordings.

Celant curated exhibitions at other venues. In collaboration with the Lucio Fontana Foundation , he mounted the 2012 survey “Lucio Fontana: Space Environments” at Gagosian Gallery , New York.

His death was reported in several Italian news outlets, following his hospitalisation at San Raffaele hospital several weeks ago. Celant began exhibiting symptoms after returning home from New York, where he had visited the Armory Show, according to the Italian publication Artibune.

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