Arte povera was a radical Italian art movement from the late 1960s to 1970s whose artists explored a range of unconventional processes and non-traditional ‘everyday’ materials. What’s important is that this culture is re-borning and becoming trendy again, giving life to a new style in art that is influencing also fashion.


Arte povera means literally ‘poor art’, but the word “poor” here refers to the movement’s signature exploration of a wide range of materials beyond the traditional ones.


Materials used by the artists included soil, rags and twigs. In using such throwaway materials they aimed to challenge and disrupt the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system.

The term was introduced by the Italian art critic and curator, Germano Celant, in 1967. When referring to arte povera, Celant wasn’t really talking about a lack of money, but rather about making art without the restraints of traditional practices and materials. His pioneering texts and a series of key exhibitions provided a collective identity for a number of young Italian artists based in Turin, Milan, Genoa and Rome. Then the new movement arrived all over the world.

Leading artists were Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini and Gilberto Zorio. They worked in many different ways. They painted, sculpted, took photographs and made performances and installations, creating works of large physical presence as well as small-scale gestures.


This movement has, as always in our World, a reflection in the fashion industry. It means that poor fashion is the latest trend to follow. Poor fashion means garments that seem cheap, “homeless style“, that maybe cost a lot of money but just give this impression because it’s the trend.


We’re talking about pullovers and t-shirts with holes, ripped jeans, or trousers with a frayed hem. That’s the style to imitate in these days, and it fits well both for men and women, you can see it everywhere, everybody is wearing it, and it is not following a distinction in terms of age, because often we are seeing it also on not young people.


Vetements, Dsquared, Triton or Gucci have presented ripped jeans on the catwalk, and many others have made the same too. Celebrities continuously wear them, often with holes in their t-shirts…


What do you need if you cannot buy it? Just scissors and the game will be easy to play!

(Arbiter Elegantiae)


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