'At the beginning of the '60s, I wrote on a wall in my studio, 'One must prepare oneself for being.' My work revolves around this root of what exists, and tries to show a perspective born in the mirror. It is born of a necessity, as a problem, and then as a need to consider each element completely autonomously, in the sense that everything we do is. Each Minus Object, just like each Mirror Painting, has created a vortex around itself, an energy common to all the works of Arte Povera.' (Michelangelo Pistoletto, Facing Pistoletto exh. cat, Turin, 2009, p. 51)
Executed in 1965, Ti Amo - a unique hand-painted canvas outlining the expression 'Ti Amo' (I Love You) in red paint - is one of Michelangelo Pistoletto's celebrated Oggeti in meno or 'Minus Objects'. These were a group of disparate three-dimensional objects, sculptures, and in this case, a painting, that Pistoletto made in 1965 and early 1966 in direct response to ideas prompted by his first mirror paintings and which he subsequently exhibited together in a radical and groundbreaking exhibition, Minus Objects, held in his studio in January 1966.
These works were 'minus objects' Pistoletto wrote, 'in so far as they are detached from me as a unitary being...With these works I am trying to establish myself as a mediator between the physical reality outside and the immaterial one of my intimate self as if I were a mirror that reflects the two parts of myself.' (Michelangelo Pistoletto, 'Notes' quoted in Pistoletto exh. cat Venice, 1976, p. 20). Each of these objects, very different from the other, was conceived as a unique and unrepeatable action isolated and distinct from any other. In a formal sense, as was observed at the time, many of these works share something of Donald Judd's concept of the 'specific object' and the reductive language of Minimalism that was being pioneered at this time. But, as the very act of painting the phrase 'I love you' illustrates for example, in concept these works are schizophrenic and open in comparison to the isolated self-referentiality of Minimalism, and ultimately suggestive of a far wider range of possibilities existing outside themselves. 'The universe, like the mind, is an enormous container of possibilities, and the moment I make one object I have all those possibilities less one; I don't need to repeat it, it's done' (Pistoletto, quoted in O. Ward, 'Interview: Michelangelo Pistoletto,' Time Out, 12-18 December 2007, p. 48)