Michelangelo Pistoletto

Born in Biella in 1933, Pistoletto is one of Italy's most famous contemporary artists.
He started to exhibit his works in 1955 and in 1960 he had his first solo show, at the Galleria Galatea in Turin. His early work experimented with the painting of self-portraits. In 1961-1962 he produced the Quadri specchianti (Reflecting Pictures) that include the presence of the spectator in the work itself, creating a new real-time dimension and challenging the idea of perspective. These works brought him international recognition and success, resulting in solo exhibitions in prestigious European and American galleries during the Sixties. The Quadri specchianti would become the basis for the entire Pistoletto’s artistic production and theoretic reflection.

From 1965 to 1966 Pistoletto produced a series of works entitled Oggetti in meno (Fewer Objects) which played a key role in launching Arte Povera. He began to take his art outside traditional exhibition venues in March 1967, leading to the first of the so-called “creative collaborations”. Pistoletto was to develop this approach during the following decades, always cooperating with several artists coming from different disciplines and social fields.
In the Seventies he revived the mirror theme, developing it in such works and actions as his Divisione-Moltiplicazione dello Specchio (Division-Multiplication of the Mirror) and L’Arte assume la Religione (Art Takes on Religion). In 1975 to 1976 he produced at the Galleria Stein, Turin, a work that stretched over time: Le Stanze (The Rooms) was an exhibition lasting a year, divided into twelve sections of a month each. It was the first of a series of complex works intended to be shown for a full year, such as Anno Bianco (White Year), 1986, or Tartaruga Felice (Happy Turtle), 1992.
In 1978 he had an exhibition at the Galleria Persano in Turin, where he showed two of the most important new directions of his artistic research and production: Divisione e moltiplicazione dello specchio (Division and Multiplication of the Mirror) and L’arte assume la religione (Art Takes on Religion). At the beginning of the Eighties he created a series of sculptures in stiff polyurethane, which were translated into marble for the solo show at the Forte Belvedere, Florence, in 1984. From 1985 to 1989 he worked on his series of “dark” volumes, entitled Arte dello squallore (Art of Squalour), displayed at the Galleria Pieroni in Rome.
During the Nineties, through Progetto Arte (Art Project) and the creation of Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, he created a straight and active link between different social fields aiming to achieve a responsible transformation of the society.

In 2003 he was awarded the Leone d’Oro, or Golden Lion award, for his career at the Venice Biennale. In 2004 the University of Turin awarded him with a honoris causa degree in political sciences. On this occasion he unveiled the most recent phase of his work, which he called Terzo Paradiso (Third Paradise). In 2007 he was awarded the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts at Jerusalem, “for his constantly inventive career as an artist, educator and activist, whose restless intelligence has created a prescient form of art that contributes to a new understanding of the world”. In 2008 Pistoletto – Cittadellarte received the Sasso Marconi city Special Award for his new use of languages.
In 2009 he has shown at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin two installations dedicated to spirituality: Metrocubo d'Infinito in un Cubo Specchiante e Il Tempo del Giudizio. He is currently preparing for the October 2010 retrospective at the Contemporary Art Museum, Philadelphia. He has been recently nominated Artistic Director for the Bordeaux Event in 2011 and has published the essay “Il Terzo Paradiso” (The Third Paradise), Edizioni Marsilio.


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Palazzo Strozzi
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