In 1970 Giorgio Persano opened Multipli, his first gallery in Torino. Multipli was exceptional for its time. Working with Arte Povera artists and with other Italian artists linked to the conceptual art of the era, Multipli produced a significant body of multiples from 1970 to 1975. Persano and his artists did not view the multiple merely as a means to circulate or multiply the image through the reproduction of an original. The gallery was founded, rather, on the notion that a work of art could be democratic. Although each piece was made as part of a series, each object would also retain the characteristics and aura of a unique piece. Curated by Elena Re, Sprüth Magers Berlin presents an exhibition that focuses in particular on artists associated with Arte Povera, exploring the idea of the multiple as the driving force behind a new form of artistic production.
The artists who made and exhibited work at Multipli were Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Giulio Paolini, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio, as well as Marco Gastini, Giorgio Griffa, Claudio Parmiggiani and Salvo. The artists did not develop a collective or specific medium for their works, but helped to transform the multiple into a historically important genre by developing a range of different techniques. Anselmo, for instance, worked with soil, Zorio incised cowhides, Salvo created marble plaques, Calzolari made installations with felt, golden thread and a rose, Penone used his forearm to make marks as a starting point to conceive a range of works, while Pistoletto started experimenting with screenprints on stainless steel. The gallery developed into a workshop for the production of works that were created especially as limited edition multiples, fashioning that combination of uniqueness and freedom that they strived to achieve. Apart from the reproducible nature of the work, and the innovative gallery model, the most important result was the quality of the work that emerged. This was due to the systematic, constructive engagement among all the artists, who worked together to create a new form of art.
The works produced by Persano’s Edizioni Multipli have been exhibited in various shows over the last twenty years, including Arte Povera: Les multiples 1966-1980, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice (1996); Che fare? Arte Povera –The Historic Years, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz (2010); Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977, The Art Institute of Chicago (2011).Arte Povera and ‘Multipli’, Torino 1970-1975 is, however, the first show that focuses exclusively on Persano’s gallery. Elena Re – who is concurrently working on a larger, comprehensive analysis and exhibition of Multipli – has curated a show of representative, historical works in order to shed light on the distinctive nature and importance of Multipli and its era. Alongside the multiples themselves, the exhibition will be expanded with the display of a range of objects and documents, including books, magazines, invitation cards, information sheets and photographs.