Made using steel wool, Pino Pascali’s Trap evokes the rope traps used to hunt animals in adventure stories and Tarzan films.

Pino Pascali was one of the most important Italian artists of the 1960s and took part in the first Arte Povera shows, but he was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1968. Sceptical of artists who adopted a consistent style, Pascali attempted to change the materials and themes of his work with every new show. Trap was from his penultimate group of sculptures, the Reconstructions of Nature series, shown at the Attico Gallery in Rome in 1968. This series, which also included sculptures of a drawbridge and a rope bridge, drew upon Pascali’s fascination with American movies, but also his interest with artists like Claes Oldenburg whose ‘soft’ sculptures of everyday objects droop from the gallery wall.

Trap is constructed from braided steel wool of the kind used in washing-up pads, wrapped around a wire armature. Pascali enjoyed the idea that a jungle animal trap, usually formed from knotted vines, could be made from a domestic, everyday material associated with housework. Some critics saw such works as emphasising the distance between nature and modern life. For others, Pascali’s playful sculptures provoked people to think again, and more creatively, about the materials of the everyday.

Pino Pascali (1935–1968) was born in Bari, Italy. He lived and worked in Rome.

Curated by Mark Godfrey.