Jannis Kounellis
Jannis Kounellis

Gallery 105

Materials that are unconventional…
Jannis Kounellis (1936–2017), a remarkable member of Arte Povera, thinks of unconventional materials as those that are readily accessible, often as waste, and can usually be found in dumps, woods or industrial containers. His choice of materials like coal, burlap or steel beams, traditionally not connected to art, is a breach as well as an attempt to move closer to the world around him.

Arte Povera (literally, poor art) is a term coined by Italian art critic Germano Celant in the late 1960s to refer to the radical art movement that attacked the link between art and the elite, choosing street art and everyday materials instead.

… and heavyweight
The weight of materials matters to Kounellis in connection with space and the possibility of transforming it.

Untitled (1988), the work by Kounellis that is part of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum Collection, comprises a row of twenty steel panels holding six burlap sacks each. The sacks are filled with coal. The total weight is 7520 kilos, 376 kilos per panel, although the number of elements on display varies. Since the ensemble is really heavy, it requires reinforced walls to be mounted on.

Original title: Untitled
Date: 1988
Medium/Materials: Steel panels with coal and burlap sacks
Dimensions: 250 x 180.5 x 30 cm each panel; variable number of elements
Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa