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Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF ILEANA SONNABEND AND THE ESTATE OF NINA CASTELLI SUNDELL
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)

Bottiglia per terra

Details
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
Bottiglia per terra
signed twice, titled and dated 'Pistoletto Pistoletto 1963 >BOTTIGLIA<' (on the reverse)
photographic paper on polished stainless steel
90 1/2 x 47 1/4 in. (229.8 x 120 cm.)
Executed in 1963.
Provenance
Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Kornblee Gallery, New York
The New Gallery, Cleveland
The Estate of Ileana Sonnabend
By descent to the present owner
Exhibited
Paris, Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Michelangelo Pistoletto, March 1964, p. 8 (illustrated).
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World, April-May 1966, no. 8.
New York, Kornblee Gallery, Michelangelo Pistoletto, January-February 1967.
Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Michelangelo Pistoletto, May-June 1969, no. 3.
Houston, Rice University, Institute for the Arts; Atlanta, High Museum and Athens, University of Georgia, Georgia Museum of Art, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Mirrors-Works, February-May 1979.
New York, MoMA PS1, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Division and Multiplication of the Mirror, October-November 1988, p. 54 (illustrated).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1989, p. 353, no. 200 (illustrated).
Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Memoria del futuro. Arte italiano desde las primeras vanguardias a la posguerra, October 1990-January 1991, p. 459 (illustrated).
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Michelangelo Pistoletto, June-October 1990, p. 80, no. 8 (illustrated).
Seoul, The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Pistoletto Through the Mirror, July-August 1994, pp. 32-33 (illustrated).
Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rome, MAXXI Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo, Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956-1974, November 2010-June 2011, pp. 188-189, no. 19 (illustrated).

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Saara Pritchard
Saara Pritchard

Lot Essay

‘The mirror paintings could not live without an audience. 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’ Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1969

Executed in 1963, Bottiglia per Terra is an early example of Pistoletto’s evocative mirror paintings. In this particular example, a life-sized photograph of a glass bottle is printed on a tissue thin paper then meticulously adhered to the surface of the highly polished mirror finished stainless steel. The image appears in the left corner of the painting, leaving large areas of the work to capture the reflection of its surroundings, thus standing in front of the painting, the viewer will find their own reflection becoming a dominant part of the artwork. The effect can be unnerving, as the viewer loses their place in the world and becomes part of Pistoletto’s creation, leading to philosophical questions as to where we belong in the world. Because of the refractive properties of the surface the viewer finds their reflection smaller than real life, and consequently the familiar bottle looks bigger. As such Bottiglia per Terra sets up an unconventional situation for the viewer to apprehend the unexpectedness of the quotidian objects, therefore inducing the questioning and contemplating of all the routine ideas and perspectives.

Beginning in 1961, Pistoletto has been making mirror paintings for over than fifty years and they have become central to his oeuvre. A classically trained artist, Pistoletto is virtuoso painter, something which can be seen in his early self-portraits. But just like Jackson Pollock, Pistoletto became especially interested in forging a new way for painting as an artistic medium. Pollock had freed painting from its function as the representation of the real world, in addition to developing an innovative method of paint application. Pistoletto found his innovation by including the viewer and their surroundings into his art, thus—in a way—making the painting interactive. Traditionally, paintings are usually displayed at window height, as a representational window looking out onto the world. In works such as Bottiglia per Terra by placing the work on the floor, almost creating a passage through the space in which they are shown and as such becomes a door that opens between art and life.

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