Even in his earliest works, Luciano Fabro (born 1936, Turin) was already dealing with fundamental Arte Povera themes such as the contrast between the man-made and nature, and the bringing together of organic and inorganic materials.
He uses a diversity of media, sometimes in combination with performance, to examine a range of themes. Cloth, bed-sheets, garments and newspaper are often employed, for example, to look at aspects of the everyday, including domestic labour. Equally important are the flowing, sculptural qualities of these materials. His series of Habitats – human-scaled structures and architectural interventions – explore our perceptual experience and relationship with others. Similar themes are investigated through his use of mirrors.
In 1968, Fabro began his series of Feet. These resemble the paws and claws of strange animals or birds, topped by long tubes of fine silk fabrics suggesting legs. Made in sumptuous materials such as carved marble, polished bronze, or hand-blown glass, they refute a simplistic interpretation of Arte Povera as an art of poor materials. Since Fabro wanted to reassert the importance of crafts-manship (traditionally deemed ‘low’ art) and sensuousness in art, he found these rich materials highly appropriate. In the same year, he began another series of sculptures portraying the familiar shape of Italy in different materials such as fur, gold, glass chips or lead. The use of an easily recognisable shape in these works allowed for a full concentration on their texture and tactility.