MICHALENGELO PISTOLETTO

(b. 1933, Biella, lives and works in Biella and Turin)

An inquiry into self-portraiture characterizes Michelangelo Pistoletto’s early works. Between 1961 and 1962 Pistoletto made the first “mirror paintings” that directly involved the viewer and real time simultaneously in the work. He attempted to bring to fore a Renaissance perspective, which had been broken down and disclaimed by the early 20th-century avant- garde. From 1965 to 1966 he produced a set of works titled Minus Objects that were considered crucial to the emergence of Arte Povera, the movement of which Pistoletto was an animating force and a protagonist. Distinguished as a movement by allowing the use of any kind of material, composition and production method, whether natural or industrial, Arte Povera was more a philosophy of life than a specific style. Later, Pistoletto began to work outside traditional exhibition spaces and developed what he described as moments of “creative collaboration,” bringing together artists from different disciplines and diverse sectors of society. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he made sculptures that drew from art-historical precedents, working in polyurethane and marble.

Donna che disegna [Woman drawing] (1962-1975) is an installation of mirrors and photography that not only represent but also present reality. By including the viewer, as well as her/his surroundings, the artist collides the static and dynamic, surface and depth, absolute and relative.

“I began using the mirror because everyone must take responsibility for self-knowledge… Through its particular characteristics, the mirror escapes all problems of change in pictorial art. And photography, among all the ways of representing mankind, comes closest to the mirror. The sole important difference lies in the fact that mirror renders the image instantly, whereas photography takes the past as its departure point. Thanks to photography, two related but asynchronous realities can be made to figure in the same picture, and although totally independent, they contribute to each other’s affirmation. Thus, avoiding any artificial deformation, I arrive at the maximum concentration of elements separated in time and space.” Michelangelo Pistoletto (2010)
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