top of page

Top Picks: Michelangelo Pistoletto at Mazzoleni

​By Sophie Arni

This week, Mazzoleni, a renowned Italian gallery based in Mayfair, London, is presenting a solo exhibition of Michelangelo Pistoletto, the Arte Povera movement's conceptual artist. Pistoletto is considered one of the most respected Italian artists working today. The exhibition comes just in time as he will be honored with the Roswitha Haftmann Prize on September 28, 2018, at the Kunsthaus Zurich.

The show is a rare opportunity to experience and purchase never-seen-before works from the Italian artist, which were previously kept from public access. Alana Pryce Tojcic, from the gallery's press team, comments: "Interestingly, most of the works in this exhibition come from Private Collections, so it will be exciting to view works that have not been displayed to the public for a long time."

On view will be both two and three-dimensional works, ranging from sculptures in different materials to charcoal drawings on paper and silk-screen prints on stainless steel.

This exhibition presents an opportunity for collectors to examine the artists' early experimental works in relation to his later works. This exhibition will focus on the artist's creative process and display pre-1962 works, the year that marks the apparition of Pistoletto's famous 'mirror works.'

Below is Global Art Daily's top picks for the exhibitions. For all serious collectors, we recommend paying a visit to this show in London, which will surely be a feast for the eyes and senses.

1. Michelangelo Pistoletto, L’uomo nero, 1959. Oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Courtesy Mazzoleni

In three words: Early and rare oil painting from Pistoletto.

In the curator’s words: Alberto Fiz, the exhibition curator, explained the importance of L'uomo nero in the following terms: One of the first paintings by Pistoletto, this "seminal work should be viewed as the hereditary seat of Pistoletto's visual language; an arresting exploration of portraiture as well as an important precursor to the artist's series of self-portraits on a reflective background."

In our words: If you are in the market for a Pistoletto mirror work, but would prefer a subtler artwork from the Arte Povera artist, then look into these oil paintings. They could even be interpreted as the artist's self-portraits. Through certain details, they introduce the notion of viewer-artist relationship with the intricate color black. The viewer becomes aware he is an essential part of looking at the painting. Without his or her reflection, the painting would lose meaning.

2. Michelangelo Pistoletto, Dono di Mercurio allo Specchio (Mercury’s Gift to the Mirror), 1971. Bronze and glass. 146 x 44 x 56 cm (sculpture), 230 x 130 x 2.5 cm (mirror), Edition of 4. Courtesy Mazzoleni.

In three words: Two in one: Pistoletto mirror painting and a monumental bronze sculpture.

In the artist’s words: According to Mazzoleni's press release, the artist spoke of these installations under these terms: 'It suggested a double projection, into the wall and out into the space of the viewer. In a way, it integrated painting and sculpture.'

In the curator’s words: "The bronze statue of Hebe is strategically placed by a mirror. This forces the viewer to enter in visual dialogue with the goddess of youth. This installation shows Hebe's indifference like many figures that appear in the two-dimensional works and reflects her face in the reflected bowl she holds in her hand."

In our words: Our favorite work from the exhibition. Colors work well. The juxtaposition between the warm bronze and the cold, austere mirror gives this work the modern edge that a simple statue of Hebe wouldn't exude by itself. Those uninitiated to Arte Povera and conceptual art might be skeptical of calling these two 'found' objects a masterpiece: but it is in the juxtaposition and the careful calculation that the artwork shines. The artist strategically orchestrated the position, the materials, the dimensions of this piece to create a particular feeling with the viewer. But we also shouldn't forget we are looking at a gorgeous bronze classical sculpture and a mirror. If not for the conceptual added value, these two objects are beautiful and technically advanced items to have in your home.

Provenance! This particular installation is also an edition of four versions (1971-1992) with a solid exhibition history and private collection provenance. Other casts of the same sculpture belong to institutional and esteemed private collections, in particular to Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (Biella) and Rachofsky collection (Dallas), amongst others.

3. Michelangelo Pistoletto, Specchio Nero (Black Mirror), 1961-1989. Enameled glass and wood, 160.5 x 160.5 cm. Courtesy Mazzoleni.

In three words: A signature mirror work from Pistoletto, with a dark twist.

In the curator’s words: "A wood and glasswork, where the artist explores the 'dark' reflection and contrasts the light with the void."

In our words: In 1989, Pistoletto might have predicted the hit TV series Black Mirror. This work is a beautiful example of a time-ambiguous artwork foretelling of our current technological era. Iphone screen or glass on wood? What's the difference, after all? This work is a great reminder to keep off your phone screen and stare at the void of glass and woodblock instead. The minimalist and unapologetically black reflection might do you better for soul-searching than a screen filled with information.


Michelangelo Pistoletto: Origins and Consequences

Curated by Alberto Fiz

September 27– December 15, 2018


27 Albemarle Street

London W1S 4HZ

Gallery hours: Monday – Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 11am to 5pm

About Michelangelo Pistoletto

Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella in 1933. He began to exhibit his work in 1955, and in 1960 had his first solo show at Galleria Galatea in Turin. In 1961-1962, he made the first 'Mirror Paintings,' which quickly brought Pistoletto international acclaim, leading in the sixties to solo shows in important galleries and museums in Europe and the United States. In 1965 and 1966, he produced a set of works entitled Minus Objects, considered fundamental to the birth of Arte Povera, an art movement of which Pistoletto was a leading figure. In 1967 he began to work outside traditional exhibition spaces. In 1975-76 he presented a cycle of twelve consecutive exhibitions, Le Stanze White Year Happy Turtle 1998 witnessed the establishment of Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto in a former mill in Biella, Italy, acquired by the artist in 1991. Here the goals expressed in Project Art are still being developed and accomplished. In 2003, Pistoletto received the Venice Biennale's Golden Lion for Lifelong Achievement. In 2013 the Louvre, Paris, hosted a solo exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto, année un – le paradis sur terre. In this same year, he received the Praemium Imperiale for painting in Tokyo.

Images courtesy of Mazzoleni Gallery. Special thanks to Alana Pryce Tojcic.

#europe #london

bottom of page