The Sarenco Papers include correspondence, photographs, writings, typewriter poems, artist books, and printed materials by, to, or relating to Sarenco (Isaia Mabellini), spanning the years 1957-2012.

This archive (2013.genm.30) has not yet been catalogued and a finding aid is still in process.


The correspondence's section contains 572 letters from 1966 to 2012.  These international and multilingual missives are a vast documentation of the poet's friendship with important artists all around the world. The archival material reveals Sarenco's main role in artistic activities from the foundation of different poetic magazine (such as Lotta poetica, Factotum art and Logomotives) to organizing the Biennale of Malindi. Among the senders names there are Gianni Bertini, Henri Chopin, Pierre Garnier, Lamberto Pignotti, Pablo Echaurren, Julien Blaine, Julio Campal, and Ingeborg Lüscher .

The photograph section shows both the private and public aspects of Sarenco's life from the 60s to 2010, highlighting Sarenco's creative process, his countless performances and copious collaborations with international artists as well as his everyday life and numerous travels. The photographs also are intended to be a visual documentation of other artists' works such as Ugo Carrera, Lamberto Pignotti, Bruno Munari, Aldo Mondino, Patrizia Guerresi, Mario Dondero, Giovanni Fontana, Maurizio Cattelan, Harald Szeemann, Shozo Shimamoto, Julien Blaine, Hans Clavin, Jean-François Bory, and Wolf Vostell.


The collection also offers a mini-archive of international visual poetry from 1965 to 2006. Actually, Sarenco collected not only his own creations but also artistic works by Ugo Carrega, Julien Blaine, Ilse Garnier, Demosthenes Agrofiotis, Pierre Garnier, Henri Chopin, Seiichi Niikuni, Hans Ladislav Novak, Arrigo Lora-Totino and Bartolomé Ferrando and many others.


The collection assembles an ample amount of books, catalogs, and artistic books in addition to many periodicals such as the three series of Lotta Poetica, Factotum art, Logomoives, Le cahier du refuge and many others.


Other Sarenco material

Political Art, 1970, portfolio print of visual poetry.

Lotta Poetica, nos. 1-49/50, 1971-75.

Factotum-Art, 1977-8, nos. 1-2, published with Paul de Vree.

Related collections

Henri Chopin and OU


Lotta Continua



Lotta Poetica

Sarenco (Isaia Mabellini, b. 1945)  took part in "Gruppo 70", founded by Eugenio Miccini and Lamberto Pignotti in 1963 in Florence. He was one of the founder of Gruppo Internazionale di Poesia visiva, also known as Gruppo dei Nove (1974). He founded in 1968 the publishing house Amodulo and in 1971, along with Paul de Vree and Gianni Bertini, the artist's magazine Lotta Poetica.


Sarenco Papers

Sarenco, 1993

Sarenco, 1993

Sarenco and Gruppo 70

Isaia Mabellini was born in Vobarno, in the province of Brescia in 1945. In 1963, at the age of 18, he began to experiment with visual poetry. By 1964, working under the name Sarenco, he joined with other visual poets, including Eugenio Miccini, Luciano Ori, Lucia Marcucci, Giusi Coppini, Michele Perfetti, and Lamberto Pignotti. Together they would come to be known as the "Gruppo 70". Amid the widespread turmoil growing in Italy over the course of the 1970s, this group remained active in Florence, publishing radical, politically-oriented treatises and poetry. Their most well-known contribution is Lotta poetica ("Poetic Struggle"), a leftist, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist monthly devoted primarily to poetry comprised of visual elements. 

After the failure of widespread resistence in 1977, the group disbanded, but Sarenco's work remained famous for the caustic tone of his epigrammatic texts paired with advertisements and images drawn from consumer culture.

Apart from Lotta poetica, Sarenco founded two other magazines, Amodulo in 1968 and Factotum art, and he created three publishing houses (Edizioni Amodulo in 1969, SAR.MIC in 1972, and Factotum art).

He worked primarily in Brescia supporting and promoting visual poetry by opening new galleries (Sincron in 1967, Amodulo in 1970 and Studio Brescia in 1972) and arranging many art shows. He also had a main role in organizing the “Centro di Paolo Berardelli” and the “Archivio Denza di poesia visiva”.

In the end of the 1980s and in the 1990s, he curated shows in northern Italy: “Poesia visiva 1963-1988, 5 Maestri: Ugo Carrega, Stelio Maria Martini, Eugenio Miccini, Lamberto Pignotti, Sarenco” in Verona and “Poesia totale. 1897-1997: Dal Colpo di Dadi alla Poesia Visuale” in Mantova.

From 1982 ,he started traveling in Africa and moved to Kenya for a long time. African art became his first interest and in 2001 he presented La platea dell’Umanità at the Biennale of Venezia. This art installation was an ensemble of 300 works by Kenyan artists. In 2006 he created the Biennale of Malindi and he organized it for over 4 years.

Sarenco went on to create a number of films in the 1980s and into the early 1990s. The first one, Collage, was written in 1968, but it was shot until 1984. It premiered at the Festival del Cinema di Venezia the following year. His other films are: In attesa della terza guerra mondiale (1985), Benvenuto grande cinema (1987), Pagana  (1988), Safari (1990), and Performance (1993).

In addition to contributing to the Biennale di Venezia many times from 1970, he has done many exhibitions in various places: Stedeljik Museum (Amsterdam), Biennale of Venezia, Documenta of Kassel, Mostra Nazionale Svizzera (Biel), Fondazione Mirò (Barcellona), Biennale of Siviglia, Biennale of Malindi, Franco Riccardo (Napoli), Centre Culturel Français (Pointe Noire), Centro Allende (La Spezia), Fondazione Berardelli (Brescia).

Sarenco and Ladislav Novak

Sarenco, 1993.

Poema gonfiabile (Inflatable poem). Sarenco, 1968. (picture)

Alcuni ritratti di Dio (Some portraits of God). Sarenco, 2002

   Sarenco and Lotta Poetica

In June 1971 Sarenco and Paul De Vree, in collaboration with Gianni Bertini (who appears in the cover of the first twelve issues), founded Lotta Poetica. The multi-national and multi-lingual periodical was devoted to visual poetry, and was created in order to fight  the art market's mechanisms. It was intended to be the voice of a militant critic, an instrument of information and a medium for the exchange of ideas at the international level.

As Sarenco wrote in the first editorial:  «The title "Poetic struggle" is an affirmation, as poets and artists, of our commitment to constant struggle». («Il titolo "Lotta poetica" è l’affermazione del nostro impegno, come poeti ed artisti in generale ad impostare una battaglia continua»).

Paul de Vree stated the necessity of poetry's reform by means of the fusion of disciplines and the collaboration with readers.

Born as unification between De Tafelronde and Amodulo, it soon became one of the main periodicals for visual poets (among them Eugenio Miccini, Julien Blaine Jean-Francois and Alain Arias Misson) and artists associated with “Gruppo 70”. 

The magazine had four series. The first one was published from 1971 to 1975 (50 issues in 32 volumes). 

The periodical, characterized by frequent attacks against the commodification of art, aimed to become the medium of alternative information. The first issues were an attempt to define visual poetry and to stress its importance, in order to claim its autonomy from conceptual art.

Since 1974, each issue of the magazine was dedicated to a particular artist. The tone of the magazine changed as well, by losing a bit of its strongly polemic character. The first issue was devoted to Sarenco and subsequent issues were dedicated to Paul De Vree, Ewerdt Hilgeman, Klaus Staeck, Enrico Baj, Bernard Aubertin, Aldo Mondino, Alain Arias-Misson, Joseph Beuys, Jean-François Bory, and Franco Fabiano. Jiri Kolar's work appeared in the last issue in June 1975.

The second series started in January 1982 (seventeen issues in eleven volumes), and it was edited by Sarenco alone. Between 1982 and 1984, many artists appeared on the pages of the magazine: Daniel Spoerri, Arman, George Brecht, Joseph Beuys, Enrico Baj, Wolf Vostell, Sergio Dangelo, Sarenco, Jean-François Bory, Bernard Aubertin, Aldo Mondino, Eugenio Miccini, Ray Johnson, Franco Verdi, Nanda Vigo, Claudio Costa, and Julien Blaine. The last issue of the second series was published in August 1984.

The third series, published under the direction of Eugenio Miccini and Sarenco in 1987, had only by 2 issues. Both featured numerous interviews (Arnaldo Pomodoro and Ben Vautier in the first;  Jean Tinguely, Mimmo Rotella, Alain Arias-Misson and Roy Lichtenstein in the second)  as well as critical essays. The forth series started in 2010.

BAU 4 + 5. Contenitore di Cultura Contemporanea
(Conteiner of Contemporary Culture), 2008. Copy 13/150.

Sarenco and Factotum art

Factotum Art was founded by Sarenco and Paul de Vree in 1977 as an ideological continuation of Lotta Poetica. The magazine was published for two years until 1979 for a total of seven numbers.

The first issue tried to define the meaning and the genealogy of visual art.

It was divided into four sections: History of Art in the 20th century, Artists' texts by Alain Arias-Misson and Lamberto Pignotti (with the introduction of Italo Mussa), Artists' projects by Sarenco, Marinus Boezem, Paul de Vree, Takahashi Shohachiro, and Michele Perfetti, and Essays.

With the second issue, the magazine completely changed its focus, reducing 264 pages to 16. It became the voice of "Futurgappismo" (the movement conceived and founded by Sarenco on April 25, 1978)

"Futurgappism" is a synthesis of two movements, "Futurism" and "Gappismo" and, as Sarenco explained in the second issue of the magazine, it is not a new artists' movement, but «it is the artists' way of working against cultural mafias in order to establish the dictatorship of the proletarian-artistic avant-garde».

The magazine was also important because it tried to reunite the different aspects of "New Poetry": "concreta", "visuale" and "visiva".

More specifically, issue 4 of Factotum art was dedicated to the correspondence between Sarenco, Lora Totino and Adriano Spatola about the possible reconciliation among these arts.








Fondazione Sarenco.


Lotta Poetica, Centre des livres d'artistes website.


Lotta Poetica bibliography and other information on Fondazione Berardelli.


Sarenco and the Visual and Sound Poetry of Italy, sound recording.


BAU. Contenitore di Cultura Contemporanea.


First and second issues of Factotum Art. 1977 and 1978.

Adriano Spatola's original letter (published in 1978 on the numer 4 of Factotum art).

  Video resources

Short silent film portrait of Sarenco by Gérard Courant, created February 3, 1984 in Paris.

Interview with Achille Bonito Oliva, Sarenco ed Oriano Mabellini. (Trasafricana show)