Michelangelo Pistoletto, ‘La gabbia’, 1970, Koller Auctions

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Edition 345/450. Signed on the reverse: Pistoletto. 100 x 70 cm.

Works by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto are immediately recognisable because he always works with mirrors or a reflective surface. The viewer and the surrounding space become part of the work, but the work itself also becomes a part of our reality. Pistoletto powerfully dissolves the boundaries between reality and art. Furthermore, through reflection he creates a dynamic without altering the static nature of the hanging work. Our movement alone creates a dynamic in the work and thus constantly generates a new work of art.

Born in 1933 in Biella, Pistoletto first worked in his father's restoration workshop. In the 1950s he turned to painting, at first predominantly self-portraits, and over time developed his "Quadri Specchianti" (mirror images). His Illeana Sonnabend exhibition in the mid 1960s earned him international recognition. Along with countless exhibitions, he also took part several times in the Venice Biennale and the documenta in Kassel.

Image rights: Courtesy Koller Auktionen.

About Michelangelo Pistoletto

A leading figure in the development of Arte Povera and Conceptual art, Michelangelo Pistoletto is best known for his “mirror paintings” beginning in the 1960s, which first used grounds of metallic paint on canvas before rejecting canvas entirely for polished steel. Pistoletto’s life-size, photo-silkscreened images of people atop highly reflective surfaces integrate the environment and viewer into the work. In his “minus objects,” sculptures that explore how objects become artworks through the ideas they express, Pistoletto uses “poor” materials as a liberation from the traditional art system, as in his 1967 work Venus of the Rags, a copy of the classical figure set against a mound of old clothes and rags. An early performance art innovator, Pistoletto founded The Zoo in the late 1960s, which joined artists, intellectuals, and the public for collaborative “actions” that unified art and daily life.

Italian, b. 1933, Biella, Italy, based in Turin, Italy