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Roberta Minnucci

PhD Candidate in History of Art, Faculty of Arts

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Research Summary

Mnemosyne in the Avant-garde: Appropriation and Cultural Citation in Arte Povera (1965-1974)

My research aims to explore the contradictory engagement of the Arte Povera with the past during the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite being promoted by the Italian art critic Germano Celant as an ahistorical avant-garde movement which rejected cultural tradition and representation in favour of an identification with nature and direct experience, Arte Povera, in practice, showed a strong bond with tradition by appropriating official high culture. These cultural references, ranging from classical sculptures to Old Master paintings, from opera to myth, reveal the existence of a subterranean tendency within the movement which was in conflict with its official aims and unveil the neglected complexity and heterogeneity of different practices. In fact, despite the revolutionary purpose and the international ambition which led the group, Arte Povera showed a strong indigenous, Italian character infused with cultural citation and humanist discourse. The substantial existing research on Arte Povera focused mainly on the groundbreaking character of the movement and its controversial engagement with the political climate of the time, failing to consider its contradictory relationship with the past.

As a consequence, my study will be the first sustained analysis of the practice of cultural citation in the specific avant-garde context of Arte Povera. It will explore the connections with high art and official culture, questioning the innovative character of the group and its revolutionary aspirations.

The use of plaster cast copies of classical sculptures, the appropriation of images from history of art, together with a taste for disguise and a theatrical approach to performance will be analysed in the works of Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

'Impoverishing signs to reduce them to their archetypes. An Introduction to Arte Povera', in Poor Art / Arte Povera. Italian Influences, British Responses, edited by Roberta Minnucci, Stephen Nelson, Paul Bonaventura, exhibition catalogue, Estorick Foundation, London, 2017, pp. 7-13.

La mente mia s'invola. Fortunato Duranti artista visionario fra le Marche e Roma, curated by Stefano Papetti, exhibition catalogue, Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo-Milano, 2014, catalogue entries pp. 130, 132, 134, 136, 140, 148, 150, 152, 156, 166, 208, 210, 212, 220.

Printing Matter(s) in «Grain» (Exhibition catalogue "Artefacts", December 2013, Rag Factory, London) Winter 2013, Issue 1, North London Darkroom, London, p. 3.

Anish Kapoor. Lisson Gallery, London, «Rivista Segno», n.243, January/February 2013, p. 32.

Bauhaus: Art as Life. Barbican Centre, London, «Rivista Segno», n. 242, October/November 2012, p. 58.

Yayoi Kusama. Tate Modern, London, «Rivista Segno», n. 241, Summer 2012, pp. 24-25.

Piero Manzoni. Gagosian Gallery, London in «Rivista Segno», n. 239, February/March 2012, p. 35.

Biografia ragionata in "Bertozzi & Casoni. Premio Pino Pascali 2011", exhibition catalogue edited by Rosalba Branà, Carlo Berardi, Jason Lee, Giusy Caroppo, Annalisa Milella, Edizioni Aliante-Museo Fondazione Pino Pascali, Polignano a Mare, 2011.

Selected Online Publications:

Scultura, vuoto, emotività. Rachel Whiteread a Londra, Artribune, September 2017.

Botticelli, adesso. Al Victoria and Albert Museum di Londra, Artribune, March 2016.

Martin Creed? L'arte è divertente!, Artribune, February 2014.

At the moment of being heard, South London Gallery, DistortedArts, July 2013.

Simon Starling e la commissione della Tate Britain, Artribune, March 2013.

Red: A Coloured Sensation, edited by Roberta Minnucci, exhibition catalogue, Southampton City Art Gallery, Issuu, March 2012.

Past Research

As part of my PhD project, in 2018 I undertook a research placement at Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art (Rivoli, Turin) where I conducted research for the exhibition Giorgio de Chirico. Major Works from the Collection of Francesco Federico Cerruti as well as on the permanent collection. Previously, I worked as Exhibition Assistant at the Estorick Collection, London, for the exhibition Poor Art / Arte Povera. Italian Influences, British Responses (September-December 2017), also contributing to the exhibition catalogue and delivering talks.

Prior to starting my PhD, I worked as a Researcher for looted artworks during the Nazi-era in the Restitution Department at Christie's, London. I have also completed a curatorial internship at the Southampton City Art Gallery, where I was the curator of the exhibition Red: A Coloured Sensation and curator interpretation of the show The Road is Wider than Long: Roland Penrose and British Surrealism.

School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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