Piero Gilardi (born in Turin in 1942) is an visual artist. Born in Italy from a Swiss family, he studied at the Liceo Artistico in Turin. In an interview with LeGrace G. Benson, Gilardi stated that his personal encounter with artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and others helped him in the development of his own artwork (in parallel with that of American Pop Art). While trying to comprehend the cybernetic idea of feedback and the scientific rational behind man's mental synthesis, his perspective on reality changed; he then focused on the fluxus and relationship of things around him.
A catalytic figure in the Arte Povera movement, concentrated in Turin in the late 1960s, Gilardi's utopian and unselfish dedication to connecting neo-avant garde artists across Western Europe and North America made him one of the most influential artistic figures of the period, albeit not the most famous. He became known in the international scene and witnessed the impact of Pop Art Europe. Itinerant artist, theorist, and organizer, he contributed to the birth of Arte Povera, especially working to establish relationships with other similar initiatives that occurred simultaneously outside Italy, supporting the work artists such as Richard Long and Jan Dibbets, introducing the one of Bruce Nauman and Eva Hesse in Europe.
His uncompromising commitment in favor of closer ties between art and life pushed for action in the fields of psychiatry and anthropology; Gilardi experimented with collective forms of political theater, workshops, and activist struggles with the workers of Fiat and against the implementing of TAV (Treni Alta Velocità: High Speed Trains) in the years 1970–80.
During the 2000s, Gilardi initiated the outdoor project "Park of Living Art" in Turin, that welcomed artists ( Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Gilles Clément, Almarcegui Lara, Michel Blazy ...) but also scientists and especially the public, invited to participate directly. Piero Gilardi appears as an iconic figure of developments in art and society over the past five decades; his work and theoretical research can always assess the potential for art to be effective in the real.
In 1963 he made his debut with an exhibition of Neodadaist Macchine per il Futuro at Galleria L'Immagine of Turin. He gained fame with the nature Carpets in 1965 : these are works made of polyurethane, which reproduce in a very realistic style and fragments of natural environment for recreational purposes, but also to report to a style of life which, with the passage of time becomes more and more artificial (Greto of stream, Gallery of Modern Art, Cagliari). These rugs were exposed to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Milan, New York City, and Paris. From 1968 Gilardi stopped the production of works to participate in the theoretical development of new artistic trends: Arte Povera, Land Art and Antiform, participating in the years 1967 – 1968 as a contributor to the realization of the first two international shows of the new trend of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam such as the Kunsthalle in Bern (Switzerland). The Stedelijk Museum displays date, in the section dedicated to the history of the museum, part of the correspondence between Gilardi and Wim Beeren, one of the curators of the museum.
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