2018 College Art Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles
IAS-Sponsored Session

Processi Italiani”: Examining Process in Postwar Italian Art, 1945–80

Room 410
February 21, 2018, 2:00–3:30pm

Chair and Organizer: Tenley Bick, Washington College

Dominant narratives in modern and contemporary art history have long positioned the 1960s Italian avant-garde Arte Povera—a movement known for ephemeral practices, informalist aesthetics, and “deskilled” procedures—as a subset of process art and post-minimalism, ascribing Italian innovations to movements better associated with British and American artists. This Anglo-Americentric reading, however, does not account for the rich experimentation in artistic process in Italian art throughout the post-WWII period or for the distinctly Italian concerns thereof—concerns such as the politics of artistic labor during the Italian labor movement, the turn to process art as a politicized response to the cultural geopolitics of object-based practices, and the significance of process-focused rather than product-focused art in the post-fascist state, to name a few. Indeed, closer examination of process in Arte Povera—and postwar Italian art, more broadly—distinguishes the work of Italian artists from that of their ostensive American and British counterparts. At a moment of renewed attention to postwar Italian art and culture, especially within American and British scholarship and institutions, this problem seems particularly pressing, calling for revisitation to process in postwar Italian art and revision of postwar art history, in turn.

To that end, this panel invites papers that examine process as a critical site of creative practice in postwar Italian art. Especially welcome are papers that consider process as a distinctive problem or politicized site of Italian artistic practice from 1945 to 1980. Topics might include, among others: the reconfiguration of design in the controdisegno movement and vanguard groups such as the Gruppo N; the implementation of the artisanal and craft in the postwar Italian avant-garde; paper practices in Italian radical architecture; the reconceptualization of artistic work and the Italian labor movement; and ephemeral practices in Arte Povera.


Elizabeth Mangini, California College of the Arts, San Francisco
“Passive Process: Arte Povera and the Politics of Autonomia”
Laura Petican, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
“Process and “Mani Sapienti”: Arte Povera and the Default to Order”
Tenley Bick, Washington College
“Minor Productions: The Work of Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1965–1970”
Maria Bremer, Bibliotheca Hertziana—Max Planck Institute for Art History
“The Artwork as Process as Exhibition: Franco Vaccari’s Esposizione in tempo reale”
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