Dutch Postgraduate School for Art History
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OSK/KNIR course Arte Povera / Opera Aperta: the (inter)nationality of the Italian art scene in the 60s and 70s
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2 t/m 12 November 2017
Arte Povera / Opera Aperta: the (inter)nationality of the Italian art scene in the 60s and 70s
OSK/KNIR course for RA and PhD students - 6 ECTS
2 – 12 November 2017
Deadline for application: 17 September 2017

Arte Povera is internationally renowned as a particularly Italian art movement of the late 1960s. It is alternatively regarded either as a guerrilla movement with political overtones, or as a particular European take on minimalism. This ambivalence between art and politics is related to the contemporary Italian debates on art and society, as well as art and the beholder, which take as its point of departure Umberto Eco's Opera Aperta of 1962. His concept of 'incompleteness' as a crucial element in contemporary art in communicating with its beholder became the leading concept for a generation of artists, including those considered to belong to Arte Povera. Eco’s adaptation and interpretation of aspects from James Joyce's literature (which was written in Trieste) established a specifically European notion of art discourse. Here the viewers play an active role – very different from Clement Greenberg's concepts (the Anglo-Saxon master narrative of High Modernism). As a result, the historiography of Arte Povera and art in general shows how shifting perspectives during the late 1960s have complicated the present-day interpretation of what Arte Povera is and what constitutes its contribution to art (history).


The course will discuss the contemporary context of Arte Povera, with special attention to the development in the arts, criticism and society, and their impact on the historiography of the movement, while relating the italian situation to the international context. Case studies of artists who we deal with are Mario Merz, Piero Manzoni, the artists of arte povera and especially Joseph Beuys' "Difesa della Natura", a project undertaken with Baronessa de Domizio Durini; this also establishes a link with the dynamics of collectors and gallerists across Italy, such as Lucio Amelio, and critic / curator Achille Bonito Oliva (Contemporanea, Rome 1973). Curatorial matters are linked through consideration of the work of Ticino-based curator Harald Szeemann, who exhibited the relevant artists consistently, but most often outside of Italy. Through these perspectives, Italy's arguable marginality in contemporary art terms will be explored.   


prof.dr. Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes (University of Amsterdam), dr. Arnold Witte (Director in Studies of Art History at the KNIR) and guest speakers. 




Course Format 
The course consists of lectures, on-site presentations, interviews and a number of excursions to both public museums such as the MAXXI and MACRO in Rome, as well as to private collections. 


Umberto Eco, The Open Work, Harvard UP 2009 and a digital reader.


Assessment and Grading
Participants are required to hand in a preparatory essay before the start of the course; they will give an on-site oral presentation, and write a final essay on a historiographical aspect of the Arte Povera movement.


Students can apply via the link on the following webpage:




Participants will be selected on the basis of motivation, list of grades, and curriculum vite. For this course, there is a maximum of 16 participants. ResMa students have precedence over PhD candidates.


Voor 17 September 2017.



There is no course fee. All students will be offered free housing at the KNIR. Students who are registered at OSK might be eligible for a fixed travel grant. Students are responsible for booking a flight themselves. The travel grant - if appointed - will be paid after successful participation and receiving 6 ECTS.


The KNIR will provide a testimonial of work load and EC. 




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