Works by Pier Paolo Calzolari at Sotheby's
Pier Paolo Calzolari Biography
Contemporary Italian artist Pier Paolo Calzolari is best known for his work in the fairly radical Arte Povera group of the 1960s and 1970s, which used unconventional materials and spaces to resist the corporate, capitalist industrialism of the post-war period. His paintings, sculpture, installations and performances weave together elemental materials found in nature including burnt wood, salt, lead, moss or even edible products to access personal and collective memory and question the nature of existence.
Born in Bologna in 1943, Calzolari spent much of his youth in Venice, the light, history and aesthetics of which he would later explain, greatly informed his work. In the 1960s, he set up a workspace at Studio Bentivoglio in Bologna, observing the work and performances of his contemporaries. He worked as an assistant at the Academy of Fine Arts and participated in exhibitions which brought him increasing international recognition, including the Live in Your Head: When Attitudes become Form exhibition at the Kunsthalle Berne in 1969. He continued working and exhibiting into the 1970s, participating in Documenta 5 in 1972, but he withdrew from the public eye in the 1980s, living in the small village of Fossombrone in central Italy, explaining that he feels a kinship with the mentality and centuries’ old history of the region. Until recently, he has remained largely away from public attention.
Despite his seclusion for nearly three decades of his career, Calzolari remains one of the most revered living artists of the Arte Povera movement. In the 2010s, Calzolari returned to a more public stage with Art Basel in 2017, and a 2018 solo exhibition at the White Cube in London. One can find his works in the permanent collections of major museums of contemporary art, including the Goetz Collection in Munich, the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin and the Art Institute of Chicago. He is represented by the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York and Kamel Mennour in Paris.