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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… 顯示更多 PROPERTY SOLD TO BENEFIT ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Man Reading

Man Reading
signed and inscribed 'Pistoletto N1 due uomini che leggono' (on the reverse)
painted tissue paper on polished stainless steel
90 1/2 x 47 1/2in. (230 x 120cm.)
Executed in 1967
Kornblee Gallery, New York.
Private Collection, Boston.
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1976).
Anon. sale, Sotheby’s London, 10 December 1999, lot 213.
Private Collection, London.
Gifted from the above to the present owner.
M. Neirotti, In fuga con Frida, Venice 1991 (detail illustrated in colour, on the front cover).
E. Lucie-Smith, Arte Oggi. DallEspressionismo Astratto agli anni Novanta, Toledo 1991 (illustrated in colour, p. 285).
D. Burt, Salvage at Twilight, Manchester 2019 (detail illustrated in colour, on the front cover).
New York, Kornblee Gallery, Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1967.

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.
Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email: pcandauctionteam@momart.co.uk.
Christie’s has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie’s has guaranteed to the seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee.
The date of execution for lot 68 should read ‘Executed in 1967’ and not as listed in the printed catalogue.


Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Auction


Executed in 1967, at the height of the Arte Povera movement, Man Reading is an immersive and introspective work from Michelangelo Pistoletto’s seminal series of Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings). Towering more than two metres in height, it offers a life-sized image of a suited man in striking green shoes, deeply engaged in a newspaper. Though seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, the work’s reflective surface plunges us deep into his realm; he too, in turn, becomes an unwitting participant in ours. This, indeed, was the fundamental conceit of Pistoletto’s Mirror Paintings: the only way for art to truly reflect everyday life, they proposed, was in literal terms. The active role of the viewer as performer is amplified by the present work’s subject matter—just as we scrutinise our own image in the work’s mirrored surface, so too is the protagonist immersed in reflections upon his own world. The work's literary connections extend to its history: it was illustrated on the cover of the 1991 novel In fuga con Frida by Marco Neirotti, as well as the 2019 anthology Salvage at Twilight by the American/British poet Dan Burt.

Begun in 1961, and pursued throughout Pistoletto’s oeuvre, the Mirror Paintings evolved from a period of deep reflection on the nature and purpose of art. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, while making a series of self-portrait studies, Pistoletto experienced an epiphany. ‘I realised 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,’ he explained; furthermore, ‘Bacon’s use of the human figure did not succeed in giving anything more than a pathological vision of reality’. Art had tried to mimic life, and had failed: thus, proclaimed Pistoletto, ‘I understood that the moment had arrived to make the laws of objective reality enter the painting’ (M. Pistoletto, interview with T. Trini recorded in 1964 and published in C. Celant, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Milan 1976, p. 6 (Italian) and p. 93 (English)). In their initial phase of production between 1961 and 1971, the Mirror Paintings were created by blowing up a photograph, cutting out a silhouette of the figure and using oils and pastels to trace it onto a semi-transparent onion-skin paper, which was then glued to the mirrored surface. Here, this process imbues the subject with a curious indeterminate quality: part painting, part print, part photograph, he hovers between worlds, neither concrete nor wholly illusory.

The present work’s choice of subject matter tethers it evocatively to the spirit of its time. The explosion of mass media during the 1960s incited significant responses from the art world, with figures ranging from Andy Warhol to Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter drawing heavily upon newspaper imagery in their works. In Italy, moreover, Arte Povera was beginning to make waves after Germano Celant coined the term in 1967, denoting the use of humble or ‘poor’ materials: Pistoletto himself, notably, would make use of newsprint in this context. Meanwhile, the Japanese artist On Kawara was embarking upon his series of Date Paintings, meticulously inscribing the day’s date upon individual canvases that were presented with corresponding newspaper clippings. The connection between newsprint and time stretched all the way back to the Cubist collages of Pablo Picasso; Bacon, too, would come to use newspaper-like fragments as a means of meditating upon the march of destiny. Here, like the mirror itself, the motif stands as a reminder of existing in the present moment—of being alive on this day, in this space, in this world. The work, in more ways than one, ultimately becomes a portrait of ourselves.

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