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Is François Pinault slumming it at the Bourse?

27 October 2023

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

The names of art movements tend to suggest what the artists who make up that movement are interested in. The Futurists wanted to claim the future, the Surrealists to go beyond realism, and the Pointillists to push the expressive possibilities of a point of colour as far as they could. So, it’s not an enormous surprise that the artists of Arte Povera were interested in making ‘poor art’. Not for them the grand luxe of oil paint, bronze or marble: artists such as Alighiero Boetti, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Alberto Burri went far beyond these materials to work instead with humble items such as biro pens, mirrors and rags.

Arte Povera works have been gaining in popularity recently. Shiny mirrors by Pistoletto have been gathering ever-greater prices when they crop up at auctions – who, after all, doesn’t want to see a bit of themselves in the artworks they own? But the culmination of this upward trend seems to be the announcement that M. Pinault, the French billionaire – long known to be a fan of Boetti and Pistoletto – is burnishing both his and Arte Povera’s credentials with an exhibition at the Pinault Collection’s gallery in the former Bourse de Commerce in Paris. For those who weren’t giving this their full attention, that would be an exhibition of poor art at what was once the commodities exchange. Seldom have art and setting so perfectly complemented one another.

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