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.