Two Michelangelo Pistoletto Exhibitions open

Two Michelangelo Pistoletto Exhibitions open

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Michelangelo Pistoletto, “Mappamondo (Globe),” 1966-68.
Newspaper and wire.
Collection of Lia Rumma.
© Michelangelo Pistoletto.

October 29, 2010

Michelangelo Pistoletto
From One to Many, 1956-1974

Michelangelo Pistoletto

November 2, 2010 – January 16, 2011

26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130

The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present a major special exhibition devoted to the work of Michelangelo Pistoletto (b. 1933), who was at the center of sweeping artistic and social change in Italy from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, and his influence persists today. As Pistoletto’s first major solo exhibition in the United States in over twenty years, Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956-1974 in the Museum’s Dorrance Galleries for Special Exhibitions explores the artist’s passage from an intensive study of self-portraiture to groundbreaking works that are increasingly inclusive of the spectator. With more than 100 works on view, the exhibition highlights many of Pistoletto’s series, including his renowned Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings) begun in 1962, in which figures crafted from painted tissue paper are affixed to polished stainless steel panels that also reflect the viewer; his Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects), a group of purposefully disparate sculptures from 1965-66; and his Stracci (Rags) from 1968 in which motley rags are used as raw material for sculpture. The exhibition is organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in collaboration with the Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (MAXXI), Rome.

Pistoletto’s early series of extraordinary self-portraits of the mid 1950s and early 1960s demonstrates an incisive exploration of the tension between the individual human figure and the anonymous spectator. Pistoletto produced his first Quadri specchianti (Mirror Paintings) in 1962, incorporating the image of the viewer and implicating their participation in the experience of the artwork through reflection. An extensive selection of Mirror Paintings from 1962 to 1974 will allow visitors to trace the evolution of the artist’s technique while mapping the sociopolitical changes in Italy during that period, which are clearly identifiable in Pistoletto’s progressive choice of subject matter. The exhibition will also include sections devoted to Pistoletto’s Plexiglas works from 1964 that clearly prefigure Conceptualism, his Stracci (Rags) sculptures from the late-1960s and early-1970s that exemplify his Arte Povera period, and documentation of the performance work that he produced with his Lo Zoo group from 1968 to 1970. A centerpiece of the show will be Pistoletto’s Oggetti in meno (Minus Objects), a group of disparate sculptural objects created in 1965 and1966 that demonstrate a precise use of contingency, the artist’s knowledge and love of materials, and a passionate emphasis on singularity and difference.

“The exhibition in Philadelphia will progress chronologically, allowing the visitors to map Pistoletto’s works in relation to the profound and swift transformation of the Italian context in which he was working,” said Carlos Basualdo, the Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art. “Pistoletto’s Mirror Paintings will punctuate other series throughout the exhibition—such as the Minus Objects and the Rags—to elucidate Pistoletto’s clear artistic evolution and the impact of the cultural and political milieu on his practice.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will publish an illustrated catalogue edited by Carlos Basualdo, with contributions by art historians Jean-François Chevrier, Claire Gilman, Gabriele Guercio, and Angela Vettese, as well as the Museum’s Conservator of Paintings Suzanne Penn. The catalogue will include plates for all works on view, pairing the Mirror Paintings with documentary photographs of the works in the show. For the first time in a major catalogue, much of the source photography that Pistoletto commissioned and utilized to create the imagery for his Mirror Paintings will be published. The English-language catalogue, designed by Abbott Miller of Pentagram, is co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Yale University Press.

Concurrent with the historical exhibition, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Cittadellarte brings to Philadelphia the inclusive spirit of Cittadellarte—Michelangelo Pistoletto’s foundation and creative laboratory. At Cittadellarte (whose name literally translates to “city of art”), Pistoletto directs a broad range of activities in which art is placed “at the center of a responsible process of transformation of society.” Founded in 1998 in Pistoletto’s hometown of Biella, Italy, Cittadellarte’s interdisciplinary approach to issues of art and society is carried out by several autonomous offices geared toward a multiplicity of topics such as Art, Economics, Education, Politics, Ecology, and Communication.

Throughout the run of the exhibition, a vast array of programming is planned to focus on three core themes relating to art and society: sustainability in relation to economics and environment; Love Difference, Cittadellarte’s motto for issues of cross-cultural tolerance; and the Caribbean. Programming devoted to these issues—including performances, lectures, book clubs, family programs, and workshops—have been organized by the Museum’s Education Department in collaboration with the artist and staff of Cittadellarte. With the community-oriented initiatives of the Museum, Cittadellarte will offer a fresh engagement of the public with Pistoletto’s participatory practice, as the installation and programming of Cittadellarte continues the participatory spirit of the artist’s collaborative work of the 1960s-1970s and highlights the vitality of participation in the arts today. See for a full listing of Cittadellarte events.

Scultura da passeggio (Walking Sculpture) with Michelangelo Pistoletto
Sunday, October 30, 1:00 p.m.

On December 4, 1967 Pistoletto first rolled a ball of pressed newspapers through the streets of Turin, Italy. For this event, he will roll a contemporary replica of his sculpture by Spiral Q Puppet Theater out of the Museum and onto the streets of Philadelphia. Departs from the Museum’s West Entrance at 1:30 p.m. (rain or shine). Free and open to the public.

Three Conversations with Michelangelo Pistoletto, Germano Celant, and Carlos Basualdo
Saturday, October 30 at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 31 at 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Here two of the founding voices of Arte Povera—art critic and curator Germano Celant and artist Michelangelo Pistoletto—in conversation with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Curator of Contemporary Art. In three sessions over two days, they will cover Pistoletto’s early work in the context of Italian art in the late 1950s, the artist’s role in the Arte Povera movement, and his current work in relation to Italian and contemporary art. On Sunday, they are joined by art historians Dr. Christine Poggi at 11:00 a.m. and Gabriele Guercio at 2:00 p.m. Van Pelt Auditorium. Free after Museum admission; ticket required. For tickets, call (215) 235-SHOW (7469).

For more information and a schedule of events related to Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956-1974 and Michelangelo Pistoletto: Cittadellarte, visit

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest art museums in the United States, showcasing more than 2,000 years of exceptional human creativity in masterpieces of painting, sculpture, works on paper, decorative arts and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. The Museum offers a wide variety of enriching activities, including programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA
215.763.8100 |
Tues–Sun 10–5; Fri 10-8:45

Press Contact:
Lindsay Warner, 215.684.7864


*Image above:
Collection of Lia Rumma.
© Michelangelo Pistoletto

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Philadelphia Museum of Art
October 29, 2010

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