Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)

La Stufa di Oldenburg

Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
La Stufa di Oldenburg
signed, titled and dated 'Pistoletto 1965 "la stufa di Oldenburg"' (on the reverse)
painted tissue paper on polished stainless steel
78 3/4 x 47 1/4 in. (200 x 120 cm.)
Executed in 1965.
The Estate of Ileana Sonnabend, acquired directly from the artist
By descent to the present owner
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World, April-May 1966, cat. no. 25.
Bordeaux, CAPC musée d'art contemporain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía; Art Cologne; Hamburger Bahnhof; Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna; Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto; Geneva, Musée Rath; Tokyo, Sezon Museum of Art; Sendai, Miyagi Museum of Art; Hiroshima, Fukuyama Museum of Art and Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, Collection Sonnabend: 25 Années de Choix et d'Activités d'Ileana et Michael Sonnabend, October 1987-February 1991, p. 165 (illustrated in color).
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Pop Art: an International Perspective, October 1992-January 1993, pp. 241 and 270, no. 182, pl. 178 (illustrated in color).
Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Sammlung Sonnabend: von der Pop-art bis heute Amerikanische und europäische Kunst seit 1954, February-May 1996, p. 97 (illustrated in color).
Turin, Castello di Rivoli Museo d‘Arte Contemporanea, Quotidiana, February-May 2000, p. 187 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Centre Pompidou–Musée National d'Art Moderne, Les Années Pop: 1956-1968, March-June 2001, no. 65.27 (illustrated in color).
Kunsthaus Zurich, Europop, February-May 2008, pp. 20-21 (illustrated in color).

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Sara Friedlander
Sara Friedlander

Lot Essay

Michelangelo Pistoletto’s La Stufa di Oldenburg—Oldenburg’s stove—is one of the only examples of the artist’s mirror paintings, where Pistoletto restaged one of his contemporary’s artworks, namely Claes Oldenburg’s The Stove (Assorted Food on Stove) from 1962. Pistoletto met and befriended Oldenburg on a trip to New York in 1965, along with Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. The Stove (Assorted Food on Stove) is exactly that, meats and vegetable made of muslin and burlap soaked in plaster and painted with enamel with real utensils on a stove. This work came out of Oldenburg’s reaction to the culture of consumerism and materialism which took form in his project The Store. With The Store—which consisted of plaster reliefs and three dimensional objects of clothing and food housed in a store front at 107 East Second Street—Oldenburg wanted to reclaim “the protection of art through reversals and disguises. From the bourgeois, from commercialism, from rivalry, from all the forces that might destroy art” (C. Oldenburg, quoted in B. Rose, Claes Oldenburg, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, p. 64). Bearing great similarities with the Arte Povera movement where artists rejected traditional depictions of art in favor of materials that challenged the existing preconceived notions of artistic creativity, Oldenburg’s The Store is a perfect representation of artist’s reactions to the consumerist and saturated culture they were living in.

Growing out of a series of self-portraits inspired by the work of Francis Bacon in the early 1960s, the introduction of the mirror as the fundamental pictorial ground of his work represented what Pistoletto has called “the next step in expanding the space of the pictorial” (M. Pistoletto quoted in “Interview with Michael Auping” in K. Burton, (ed.) Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mirror Paintings, London 2010, p. 65). La Stufa di Oldenburg is a beautiful example of Pistoletto’s experimentation with color, which began in the mid-1960s, and is a clear shift from his earlier colorless and isolated depictions of figures. Red sausages, slabs of meat and green vegetables on an old-fashioned blue and white stove exhibit a certain joie de vivre, an image of domestic day-to-day life, exuding abundance and wealth. Allowing a reflection of reality to temporarily enter the picture frame, Pistoletto’s use of the mirror continues an investigation into pictorial space inaugurated by Lucio Fontana’s spatial experiments in the previous decade. Pistoletto’s practice of laying a fixed reproductive image of a figure or object over an empty reflective surface is “very important,” the artist has said, because it “complicates the space of the mirror. It’s not what you call a ‘one liner.’ It adds another perceptual element. I was never interested in using the mirror as a Readymade.” (M. Pistoletto quoted in ‘Interview with Michael Auping’ in K. Burton, (ed.) Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mirror Paintings, London 2010, p. 65).

The stove acted for Oldenburg as a theatre prop, as a way of recreating “the articles he passed every day in his slum neighbourhood [such as] the food displayed in bodegas and delicatessens along Second Avenue;” elevating products and commodities in a culture where these were becoming more and more disposable. (C. Oldenburg, quoted in B. Rose, Claes Oldenburg, exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1970, p. 64). With its domestic subject, in La Stufa di Oldenburg the theatre of Pistoletto’s oeuvre is emphasized as the viewer passes in and out of the frame, literally entering the space of the painting and becoming momentarily part of Pistoletto’s stage set, embroiled in a parallel reality, in direct dialogue with the artist and the tradition of pictorial space. Pistoletto endows his audience with the same privilege enjoyed by the artist “the viewer becomes the one who walks on the canvas—finds himself in the same space as the artist” (M. Pistoletto quoted in J. Lewinson, ‘Looking at Pistoletto / Looking at Myself’, J. Lewinson in K. Burton, (ed.) Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mirror Paintings, London 2010, p. 15). By dispensing with the traditional canvas in favor of the mirrored surface, Pistoletto allows the viewer to be at once looking at and within the work, as the artist had been during its fabrication. In this way, Pistoletto creates a shared experience between artist and spectator that works such as La Stufa di Oldenburg with their depiction of everyday interactive objects now cemented in art history, serve to underline.

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