Michelangelo Pistoletto is a world-renowned Italian artist, whom virtually all art lovers, including Francesco Corallo, are likely to have heard of. Pistoletto is considered to be one of the most prominent members of the movement known as Arte Povera; his work focuses primarily on the merging of everyday life and art, and the subject of reflection (both literal and figurative).
Born in Biella in 1933, Pistoletto spent much of his late teens and twenties working in a restoration shop run by his father. It was during this time that he became fascinated by self-portraits. In late fifties, he ended his career in restoration, and took part in the show, ‘Biennale di San Marino’. His work grew in popularity quite quickly, and just one year later, he held a solo exhibition in Turin, in a space called ‘Galleria Galatea’.
One of Pistoletto’s most famous collections, ‘Minus Objects’ was created in the mid sixties; these sculptural pieces aimed to explore the way in which a simple, mundane object could be considered a work of art, depending on the concepts it was being used to express. This was an act of defiance on Pistoletto’s part; his use of seemingly ‘worthless’ objects to create sculptures, was his way of rebelling against the notion that something could only be given the label of ‘art’ if it was made using expensive materials.
Over the course of his career, Pistoletto focused on the unification of the environment with art, via his sculptural installations, performances and mirror paintings. The latter represented his desire to bring together figurative and conceptual art, and consisted of steel plates covered in photo-silkscreened pictures. People who are interested in art, such as Francesco Corallo, may know that the reflective surface of these pieces serves to engage the viewer with the art which they are observing, and force them to question their ideas of reality and self.
Pistoletto has continued to experiment with various types of materials and ideas, but the juxtaposition of the conceptual with the figurative is still a reoccurring theme in his work. Evidence of this persistent fascination can be seen in Pistoletto’s ‘Venus of the Rags’ pieces; over the years, he has made multiple versions of this sculptural installation. It consists of a classically designed statue of Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, standing amongst piles of discarded clothing. Variations of this work can be viewed at the Turin Museum of Contemporary Art and the Giuliana and Tommaso Setari Collection, which is located in the city of Milan.