© Jannis Kounellis

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Untitled 1960 - 1998

On Tour On tour at UK / MIDDLESBROUGH / MIMA

  • Artist Rooms
In the late 1960s Kounellis played a key role in the foundation of Arte Povera. Literally meaning ‘Poor Art’, this was an anti-elitist movement that promoted a new openness to artistic production characterised by the use of non-art materials. Here, steel panels and canvases create a framework from which a sack of coal is suspended. The tension between the supporting structure and weight of the hanging materials draws our attention towards the centre of the composition and the special properties of the coal. Conjuring up a sense of its mass, texture and distinctive aroma, Kounellis’s integration of this ordinary substance reflected Arte Povera’s ambitions to unite art with everyday, lived experience.

Glossary Open

Arte Povera

Introduced by the Italian art critic and curator Germano Celant in 1967, ‘arte povera’ literally translates as ‘poor art’. As a movement was concerned with eliminating the idea of art as an exclusive activity. Demonstrating openness to new materials, the artists associated with the movement rejected traditional materials such as oil paint or bronze. Instead they employed ‘valueless’ found objects and materials such as stones and soil.

Arte Povera


  • Acc. No. AR00068
  • Medium Steel panel, enamel on paper on 2 canvases, fabric, coal, 3 metal hooks and metal rod
  • Size 200.00 x 180.00 x 46.00 cm
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008