Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)

Paolo Mussat Sartor

Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933)
Paolo Mussat Sartor
signed twice, titled and dated 'Michelangelo Pistoletto - Paolo Mussat Sartor - 1962-88 Pistoletto' (on the reverse)
silkscreen on polished stainless steel
49¼ x 27½in. (125 x 70cm.)
Executed in 1962-1988
Mussat Sartor Collection, Turin (acquired directly from the artist).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Asti, Fondazione Giov-Anna Piras, Imaginae 1960-1990, 2011 (illustrated, unpaged).
Turin, Biasutti & Biasutti, Opere di Michelangelo Pistoletto, Quadri Specchianti, 2014 (illustrated in colour, p. 28).
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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Lot Essay

‘The beginning and end of this story is the wall. For it is on the wall that pictures are hung, but mirrors are fixed there, too. I believe that Man’s first real figurative experience is the recognition of his own image in the mirror: the fiction that comes closest to reality’ – Michelangelo Pistoletto

Held in the same collection since it was created, Paolo Mussat Sartor is a mesmeric tribute by Michelangelo Pistoletto. Against a lustrous ground of stainless steel, Pistoletto silkscreened a reverse portrait of his friend and collaborator, Paolo Mussat Sartor, the celebrated photographer who captured the Arte Povera movement. Formed in Italy at the end of the 1960s, Arte Povera was a radical group united by its rejection of rules and an embrace of commonplace materials. Sartor documented their ephemeral installations of melting ice, grass and felled trees, which were predominantly shown at the Galleria Sperone in Turin, the buzzing centre of bohemian life and experimentation, where Pistoletto also exhibited. A thrilling encapsulation of this artistic collaboration and influence, Paolo Mussat Sartor commemorates Italy’s daring post-war art scene.
Pistoletto has dedicated his career to exploring reflection and its implications in contemporary art. According to the artist’s own legend, he caught sight of a face in the highly-polished black surface of one of his paintings, not realizing it was his own: ‘I was dumbfounded to see him coming toward me, detaching himself from the painted background,’ he recounted (M. Pistoletto, quoted in Michelangelo Pistoletto: A Reflected World, exh. cat., Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 1966, n. p.). Recognizing the potential of harnessing reflection, Pistoletto began to work on polished steel panels, hand painting portraits he copied from photographs; his Mirror paintings of the 1960s serve as the antecedent for the present work. Cutting each figure out from its background allowed the artist to create an endless space of open-ended possibility, where the viewer is integrated into the work; as Germano Celant noted, ‘Pistoletto’s mirror surface operates as a monitor of the present’ (G. Celant, ‘Reflections of Lava’, in Pistoletto, exh. cat., MoMA PS1, New York 1989, p. 20).
Pistoletto began to work with Sartor in the 1960s, using the photographer’s images as subjects for the Mirror works. After entirely renouncing painting, he turned to the mechanised possibilities opened up by the silkscreen; Pistoletto’s interest came not from the prospect of its endless reproduction, as favoured by Andy Warhol, but rather for the potential to eradicate all painterly marks in the merge of image and support. For the artist, breaching space was the end goal: ‘Warhol tackles the repetition of images on the surface of the painting as a social and cultural phenomenon of our time, while I place the repetition in terms of depth… On the surface which “stops up” history, I place it in depth, where there is space for history and for the future, on either side of the wall’ (M. Pistoletto, quoted in M. Pistoletto and G. Celant, ‘Continuum’, in Pistoletto, exh. cat., MoMA PS1, New York 1989, p. 119). Paolo Mussat Sartor is similarly self-reflexive, an eternal loop where photographer, viewer and artist all converge in infinite depth. What lies beyond the camera’s lens remains impossibly out of grasp.

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