Poor Art – Rich Legacy at The National Museum

Materials have the intrinsic ability to communicate emotions that exceed the formal composition. Soil, clothing, paper, rocks and rope bring us back to the pre-industrial age, in which men were still in contact with the flow of time, living on simple yet authentic values.

In occasion of its 25th anniversary, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oslo put on stage the exhibition Poor Art – Rich Legacy. Arte Povera and parallel practices 1968–2015. The exhibition focuses on the “Arte Povera“ movement and its influence on contemporary Norwegian and international artists. This is the last show within the suggestive setting of former Norwegian Bank building, prior to the Museum’s move to the new National Museum at Vestbanen.

Far from being a Luddite vague, the Italian movement “Arte Povera“ has always had a highly political content. By positioning themselves in open critic with contemporary society, “Arte Povera“ artists trigged the most significant and influential avant-garde movement to emerge in Europe in the 1960s. Their work sought to mirror and call into question the current state of things while expressing a general opposition to consumerism and the increasing commercialization of the art world. By exploring all contemporary forms of expression such as happenings and installation art to the fullest extent, artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jannis Kounellis, Giulio Paolini, Guiseppe Penone, Gilberto Zorio and Mario Merz free art from any obligation connected to materials and processes. The clash of the new and the old in Arte Povera complicates our sense of the effects of passing time and pushes us to critically think of our culture. 

Arte Povera brings a message of freedom and responsibility to society, so that each individual feels himself freer and more responsible through the liberating and uplifting power of art.

  • Poor Art – Rich Legacy at The National Museum

    Article by
    Cecilia Musmeci



    Patrick Stangbye


    Bankplassen 4,
    Oslo, Norway

    Special Thanks

    Patrick Stangbye