ROME (AFP).- Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis, a major figure of the Arte Povera movement, has died in Rome aged 80, Italy's culture ministry said Friday.
Born in Piraeus in 1936, he moved to Rome at the age of 20 to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, and made his name with a 1969 exhibition where he put on show 12 live horses in the city's Attic Gallery.
"It is a sad day, Kounellis has left us. A master, Italian by adoption, who left a mark on contemporary art," Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a tweet.
Kounellis worked often with "poor" materials -- coal, jute bags, steel, piles of stones -- and was admired for his challenge to Pop Art and the American hegemony of the 1960s.
He was invited to hold solo exhibitions across the world, with works ranging from cuts of hung meat to cages of rats, and using materials such as propane torches, smoke, ground coffee, lead, and recycled wooden objects.
Arte Povera -- a radical movement that challenged the status quo -- was started in the 1960s during a period of social upheaval in Italy.
Dubbed "poor art" to signify its anti-elitist protest against consumerism, it placed Italy in the vanguard of the international art scene.
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