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MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO (B. 1933)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED BELGIAN COLLECTION
MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO (B. 1933)

Amanti (Lovers)

Details
MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO (B. 1933)
Amanti (Lovers)
signed and titled 'Pistoletto amanti' (on the reverse)
painted tissue-paper on stainless steel
90 ½ x 47 ¼in. (230 x 120cm.)

Executed in 1962-1966
Provenance
Galleria del Naviglio, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner circa 1966-1967, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
Michelangelo Pistoletto at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels 1967, video, reproduced on www.ina.fr/video/CPF10005262 (shown at 1:04).
A. Boatto, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Dentro/Fuori lo specchio, Rome 1969 (illustrated, unpaged).
Exhibited
Milan, Galleria del Naviglio, Pistoletto, 1967 (illustrated, unpaged).
Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1967, no. 22 (illustrated, unpaged; dated 1966).
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

‘When I realized that someone like Pollock, although he attempted to transfer life onto canvas through action, did not succeed in taking possession of the work, which continued to escape him, remaining autonomous, and that the presence of the human figure in the painting of Bacon did not succeed in rendering a pathological vision of reality... I understood that the moment had arrived to make the laws of objective reality enter the painting’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in G. Celant, Identité Italienne, Paris 1981, p. 81).

‘The step from the mirror paintings to theatre – everything is theatre – seems simply natural... It is less a matter of involving the audience, of letting it participate, as to act on its freedom and on its imagination, to trigger similar liberation mechanisms in people’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in ‘Interview with G. Boursier’, in Sipario, April 1969, p. 17).

Comprising solely of a graphic representation of two, young lovers enclosed in a passionate embrace against an otherwise empty but reflective stainless steel background, Amanti is one of Michelangelo Pistolettto’s first series of Quadri specchianti or ‘mirror paintings’. These are the works that formed the core of Pistoletto’s oeuvre in the 1960s and which since that time, have run, as the artist acknowledges, like ‘a golden line’ through his entire artistic career (M. Pistoletto, quoted in O. Ward, ‘Interview: Michelangelo Pistoletto,’ in Time Out, 12-18 December 2007, p. 48).

Executed in 1966, Amanti is an early mirror painting that invites the viewer into an almost uncomfortable voyeuristic interaction with two intertwined young lovers self-absorbed and self-enclosed in an intimate, unseen and ultimately unknowable world of their own. Created at a time when, in response to both the inherent nature of his work and also the rapidly changing socio-political culture of 1960s Italy, Pistoletto was expanding his artistic enterprises into an ever-more interactive, open and communal direction, Amanti is both a charmingly complex mirror painting and a potent symbol of its time.

Pistoletto’s first mirror-paintings had evolved out of a series of self-portrait studies that the artist had made in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was ‘when I realized that someone like Pollock, although he attempted to transfer life onto canvas through action, did not succeed in taking possession of the work, which continued to escape him, remaining autonomous, and that the presence of the human figure in the painting of Bacon did not succeed in rendering a pathological vision of reality,’ Pistoletto recalled, that ‘I understood that the moment had arrived to make the laws of objective reality enter the painting’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in G. Celant, Identité Italienne, Paris 1981, p. 81). The solution to this problem, Pistoletto found, was to use the mimesis and reflectivity of the mirror as a way of letting reality and the life of the viewer enter into the painting as both a subject and a performer.

Pistoletto began his first mirror paintings in 1961, and until 1971 when he changed his method by beginning to silkscreen directly onto the mirrored surface, these first Quadri specchianti, as in Amanti, were made by the more complex and painstaking process of blowing up a photograph, cutting out the silhouette of the figure, and then tracing it onto a semi-transparent onion-skin paper with oils and pastels. This image was then glued directly onto the reflective metal surface.

Isolated against this reflective panel, the figures of Pistoletto’s subjects (usually friends, colleagues and other people he knew) began increasingly to assert and question the difference between the world of representation and the reflective ‘reality’ of the mirror. For, in looking at these works the viewer immediately enters into a paradoxical and problematic world, seemingly both participating within the often very intimate and private space of the subject – a mother nursing her child, an artist in the act of drawing or as in this work, two young lovers taking comfort in each other – and yet also remaining remote and separated in an alternate space and time that nevertheless simultaneously exists pictorially within the same frame. As is emphasized by the two lovers in this work, for example, where they themselves are visibly locked into a separate world of their own, Pistoletto’s subjects inhabit an entirely different world from that of the viewer. Static, representational images, they are frozen and isolated in a single moment taken from what is clearly the past. At the same time however, and seemingly within the same frame or dimension of the picture, the viewer’s reflected image interacts with this apparently separate moment. Standing within the work, it is able to participate and move within it and also to observe the real space and time of the gallery or whatever space within which the mirror painting has been placed. Appearing within the confines of the mirror-painting’s pictureplain, the viewer introduces an ever-changing present. In addition, it is only the viewer – whose image appears simultaneously inhabiting and interacting with both exterior and interior spaces and times – that functions as a bridge between these two seemingly separate worlds. The ‘true protagonist’ of these works therefore, Pistoletto later wrote, ‘was the relationship of instantaneousness that was created between the spectator, his own refection, and the painted figure, in an ever-present movement that concentrated the past and the figure in itself to such an extent as to cause one to call their very existence into doubt: it was the dimension of time itself’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in Minus Objects, exh. cat., Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa, 1966, unpaged).

Mirror paintings such as Amanti, whose self-absorbed and self-contained subject matter overtly emphasizes and plays with the intrusive presence of the viewer within the representational realm are highly symptomatic of Pistoletto’s developing practice at this time. It reflects the artist’s growing tendency, in the mid-1960s, to force the intrusive and yet collaborative presence of the viewer within his work (from the Minus Objects to his mirror paintings) into ever more specific roles that revealed to them their function as living participants within what he was increasingly coming to see as not just the ‘theatre’ of painting but as an entire world-theatre that embraced all aspects of life. Indeed, it would be as a similar pair of lovers that Pistoletto would depict himself and his lover and creative partner Maria Pioppi, just over one year later at the inauguration of his last mirror-painting show of the 1960s and the beginning of his community theatre-project Lo Zoo held at the L’Attico gallery in Rome at the beginning of 1968. ‘The mirror paintings could not live without an audience’ Pistoletto said in this respect, ‘They were created and re-created according to the movement and to the interventions they reproduced. The step from the mirror paintings to theatre – everything is theatre – seems simply natural... It is less a matter of involving the audience, of letting it participate, as to act on its freedom and on its imagination, to trigger similar liberation mechanisms in people’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in ‘Interview with G. Boursier’, in Sipario, April 1969, p. 17).

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