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.