Arte Povera

In the 1960s, Arte Povera in Italy constituted one of the most significant 20th century art movements. Its protagonists included the artists Alighiero Boetti, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, Giulio Paolini and Emilio Prini, who created poetic works using humble materials. With their images, objects, installations and performances, they subtly criticized the increasing application of technology in the environment and the economization of culture. The term Arte Povera was coined by the art historian Germano Celant, who, in September 1967, mounted the eponymous exhibition with these artists in Genoa. The movement, however, included far more artists than those represented in the show.

The Sammlung Goetz has one of the most comprehensive collections of Arte Povera, with more than 150 works. These include key pieces such as Torsione (1968) by Giovanni Anselmo; Ping Pong (1966) and Mappa (1988) by Alighiero Boetti; Untitled, number paintings, 1959 and 1961 by Jannis Kounellis; Orchestra of Rags (1968) and The Etruscans (1976) by Michelangelo Pistoletto; Igloo (1984/1992) by Mario Merz, and many others. Wishing to grow her collection, Ingvild Goetz – accompanied by the curator Christiane Meyer-Stoll and the art dealer Cordula von Keller –  traveled through Italy in the early 1990s to visit the museums, artists and private collectors who were ready to sell their Arte Povera works. The Sammlung Goetz includes not only Arte Povera paintings, sculptures and installations, but also large collections of black-and-white photographs by Claudio Abate, Giorgio Colombo and Paolo Mussat Sartor, which document the performances of movement’s artists.

Despite the fragility of the objects, the collection has been frequently exhibited and documented in accompanying publications. Such exhibitions include the European traveling exhibition Arte Povera. Works and Documents from Sammlung Goetz 1958 to the present (1997-2000); Arte Povera. The Great Awakening (2012/13) at the Kunstmuseum Basel; and, most recently, Arte Povera. Seen by Ingvild Goetz (2017) at Hauser & Wirth, New York.

Mario Merz, Igloo, 1984 and 1992, © VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn, photo: Wilfried Petzi


The five-part CREMASTER cycle is the most renowned work of the American artist Matthew Barney. These are five non-chronologically produced films in which the artist explores historical events, myths, legends and personal memories. Barney began working on the monumental film project, which is accompanied by sculptures, photographs and drawings, in 1994. Barney not only wrote the script and directed the films, but also was a main actor in each.

Although each film is an independent work of art, together the films constitute a self-contained system, in which Barney explores the processes of biological and physiological formation. The cycle’s title refers to the Latin term for the muscle that lowers and raises the testis, the musculus cremaster, which causes the unintentional contraction of the testis as a result of external stimuli.

The collector Ingvild Goetz, who first encountered Matthew Barney’s work at documenta IX in 1992, accompanied the creation of the CREMASTER cycle through her early acquisition of it. In the production of CREMASTER 5, the third part of the cycle, she was involved in filming several scenes in New York.

The Sammlung Goetz is one of four collections worldwide that owns of all five CREMASTER films and the corresponding showcases with the objects contained therein. Following a group exhibition that included works by Barney in 1996/97, the Sammlung Goetz presented the complete CREMASTER cycle in a solo exhibition in its own museum space in 2007/08.


Matthew Barney, CREMASTER Cycle, 2007, © the artist, photo: Nic Tenwiggenhorn/VG BILD KUNST, Bonn

Prints by Fred Sandback

The American artist Fred Sandback is one of the most important representatives of Minimal Art. He became known with his expansive sculptures of tautly stretched string and yarn, which resemble three-dimensional drawings. He developed an interest in printmaking in the early 1970s. Because of the ease of the technique, he first explored silk-screening, creating bi-colored prints. The strong, well-defined lines in these corresponded with the drawings and objects Sandback created during the same period; for example, he used black rubber bands for his sculptures and drew in black felt-tip pen.

In 1975, through his contact with Karl Imhof in Munich, Sandback was introduced to classical printing techniques and expanded his repertoire. Initially, he created small-format etchings as trial prints; Sandback was so excited by the results, however, that he soon ventured to larger formats. The softer, slightly frayed lines in these reflect to the development of his sculptural work; Sandback had discovered a new medium for his sculptures: dyed acrylic wool.

Sandback experimented with various printing techniques. Thus, his oeuvre includes silkscreens, etchings, lithographs, aquatints, linoleum cuts and woodcuts, as well as works of inverse lithography, with which, starting in the 1980s, he printed works of white lines on a colored background. This diversity of Sandback’s work is unique in the context of Minimal Art. The Sammlung Goetz contains Sandback’s entire body of printmaking, which also depicts his artistic development.

Fred Sandback, Acht Variationen für die Galerie Heiner Friedrich (detail), 1971-73, © the artist, photo: Ron Amstutz

Prints by Blinky Palermo

Blinky Palermo, whose real name was Peter Heisterkamp, began his artistic career at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. In 1964 he moved into the class of Joseph Beuys, where he gave himself the pseudonym Palermo. His friendship with fellow artists such as Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Ulrich Rückriem and, above all, Imi Knoebel, with whom he shared a productive studio, were also formative to his artistic development. In their exploration of Kasimir Malevich’s manifesto The Non-Objective World, these artists sought an independent way to free themselves from the laws of conventional painting. Palermo’s charismatic personality, his artistic talent and his early, unexplained death made him a mythical figure in the art world.

Palermo’s primary means of expression was color. He discovered printmaking relatively late in his career creating a total of 37 graphics and editions, almost all of which are owned by the Sammlung Goetz. In his graphic works, he repeated motifs and forms he previously used in his paintings and murals. The printmaking technique allowed Palermo to pursue serial concepts, as with the Five Miniatures (1972), or to document temporary spatial installations, such as his mural Staircase (1970) in the gallery Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf, in another medium.

Works by © Blinky Palermo/VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn, photo: Thomas Dashuber

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