Pino Pascali
Born in Bari, Italy, in 1935; died in Rome, Italy, in 1968.

Pino Pascali was among the most promising and innovative Italian Arte Povera artists of the 1960s, until his life was tragically cut short by a motorcycle accident in 1968; he was thirty-two years old. Although he was active as an artist for only a few years, Pascali left behind a rich and strikingly diverse body of work that employed everyday, fragile materials to explore the relationships between art, daily life, and time immemorial.
Pascali’s use of commonplace objects invested raw materials with mythical status. His series Feigned Sculptures comprised canvases stretched over wooden armatures and ordinary household items to conjure the fantastical. His series Elements of Nature (1967), based on features of rural landscapes, is an entreaty for a preindustrial, nonmaterialistic society. This proximity to the earth and to everyday materials percolated into Reconstruction of Nature, a sculpture series he created in 1968. The works in this series included everything from aquatic bristle worms made of scouring brushes to steel wool sculptures based on Tarzan movies and fairy tales. His sculpture Cavalletto (1968) cuts closest to the bone. Constructed entirely of steel, wool, and wood, its title recalls both an artist’s easel and a torture device: the rack.
Cannone semovente (Gun) (1965) belongs to Pascali’s earliest and most renowned sculpture series, his Weapons. In 1965, he created a fleet of replica tanks, cannons, and bombs fashioned from auto parts and found objects, which he painted olive green. Cannone semovente faithfully reproduces every outer aspect of an automatic cannon with one exception: it is a weapon that cannot fire. In a single, deft gesture Pascali exposes an uneasy alliance between children’s war games and real acts of violence, a razor-sharp critique he aimed at both the military apparatus and the art world. For the artist, play and mimicry were powerful arenas to test the boundaries of reality. As quoted in Germano Celant’s Arte Povera (1985), Pascali said of his art, “The essential thing is that they give me strength, they demonstrate that I exist.” Each of Pascali’s works was distinct and in each one he made the world anew.


  • Title: Cannone Semovente
  • Creator: Pino Pascali
  • Date Created: 1965
  • Rights: Courtesy Private Collection, Photo by Alessandra Chemollo; Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia
  • Medium: wood, scrap metal, wheels

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