When fiber art wasn’t yet called fiber art and the concept of upcycling didn’t exist, in Italy there was Michelangelo Pistoletto who made works of art with rags. His best known is perhaps the Venus of Rags, initially created at the end of the 1960s and then revived several times until a version installed as a public work in Naples recently went up in flames. The artist has been working with textile waste for years and not just to make Venuses. At Magazzino Italian Art, a museum that displays the Arte Povera collection of the couple Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu and which recently inaugurated a new pavilion for temporary exhibitions, a special project celebrating Pistoletto’s 90th anniversary has been on display in the last few months.
Among the works on display is Welcome to New York (1979), a tribute to the Big Apple composed of an iron crown reminiscent of that of the Statue of Liberty from which a cascade of rags of all colors emerges: a reference to the millions of immigrants who arrived in the city chasing the American dream.The work was exhibited in a solo show that the MoMA dedicated to the Italian artist in 1988. In ideal dialogue with this, there is another work kept by the museum, Stracci Italiani (2007), a tricolor of rags installed right at the entrance of the building which houses the permanent exhibition and donated to the founders by the artist on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. Two stories, that of the unification of the Peninsula and that of immigration to New York, linked not only by rags.