Artwork of the month May

Pier Paolo Calzolari, Rapsodie inepte, 1969

Pier Paolo Calzolari

*1943 in Bologna

Rapsodie inepte, 1969

Tobacco leaves, tin, neon tubing, transformer

An "inept, foolish rhapsody" of tobacco leaves, tin staves and neon lettering is mounted on the wall of the museum. Is this the visual equivalent of the free-flowing form of composition that can be found in music and literature? Is it inept or foolish because of the seemingly pointless juxtaposition of unlikely materials that is the hallmark of Arte Povera?

The direct presentation of simple materials, charged with meaning, is perhaps the most obvious identifying trait of the otherwise heterogeneous movement for which art critic Germano Celant coined the term Arte Povera in the late 1960s. Yet the movement cannot be reduced merely to the use of simple, everyday materials and objects. Rather, it is through its simplicity and directness that it distinguishes itself from art that is "rich" in conventionally accepted meanings.

The works of Arte Povera invite us to set aside all predetermined categories and values in order to experience the sensory qualities of the materials in their own right. Often, those qualities reveal themselves, as they do here, in the contrast between the organic and the inorganic, between elements from nature and industrially manufactured products. The fragile, dry tobacco leaves with their potentially intoxicating effect are overlaid with rods of tin – a pure, light metal with an elegant sheen. The light of the neon tubing stands out against the brown leaves and the white wall, "advertising" the title of the work in duplicate. The writing defines the work in language and yet it is part of the overall form, which, in itself, recalls the shape traced in the air by a conductor measuring the beat of 3⁄4 time. As a figure of a movement that interweaves diverse elements, it also lends visual expression to the classical Greek craft of the rhapsodes, who wove songs together.


<b>Pier Paolo Calzolari, Rapsodie inepte, 1969 </b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.