Pistoletto is considered one of the most influential artists of Italian Arte Povera. 2016 has already become very saturated year in terms of exhibition for the artist, spanning multiple countries across the world, from France and Italy to the UAE and the UK.
Nevertheless, Pistoletto’s project at Blenheim Palace was one of the best highlights of the Fall Season 2016. His interventions of the existing space created the dialogue between past and present, which is truly a thrilling experience. Swaying through the early 18th-century palace decorations to the mirror and other large-scale installations of the second half of the 20th, visitor’s attention focuses on absorbing the moment of now.
The contrast is striking and intense but at the same time, everything surprisingly fits in so organically. You have to explore palace more than few times, until it is possible to notice all the artworks on display – A dog in a mirror, ‘Ti Amo’ in the vault, elongated chairs streaming in the sky. His works both compliment and disrupt the Palace’s Baroque setting creating new ways to experience it, confirming John Dewey’s theory of ‘Art as Experience’, an experience that personally affects your life.
As the artist’s most comprehensive UK show to date with an opportunity to see works the past decades, we also wanted to think back of the most well-known projects in Pistoletto's practice.
"The Third Paradise" in the woodland of Francesco di Assisi (2010)
One of his most ambitious projects, it consisted of a work of land art comprised of 121 olive trees planted in the shape of the symbol for his ongoing art project Third Paradise. The work's symbol, loosely based on the mathematical infinity sign, includes two circles signifying nature and artifice or the artificial world created by man, and a conjoining middle circle intended to represent the potential for the rebirth of a new humanity.
Throughout the last decade, Pistoletto has created works depicting the symbol of Third Paradise in a variety of materials such as sand, enamel, aluminium, and rags; but this massive work of land art provides a permanent home for the symbol.
"Love Difference - Artistic Movement for an InterMediterranean Politic" (2003)
At the Biennale in 2003, he presented Love Difference – Artistic Movement for an InterMediterranean Politic, for which he was awarded the Venice Biennale’s Leone d’Oro alla Carriera. Project itself begun in April 2002 and was coordinated by Cittadellarte’s Politic Office. It's consisted of a large reflecting table shaped like the Mediterranean basin, surrounded by chairs coming from the different countries that border on the sea. Around this table, in Venice and later in other places around the world, he presented and developed many of the activities of Love Difference.
"Standing Man" (1962/82)
This work is a typical example of Pistoletto’s Quadri specchianti or mirror paintings. It comprises a mirrored surface made of highly polished steel measuring more than two and a half metres in height. The figures in the mirror paintings are generally shown with their backs to the viewer, or appear in partial profile.
The mirror paintings of the 1960s express Pistoletto’s belief in art as a mediator, rather than an originator, of thought and experience. They could not live without an audience and constantly create and re-create according to the movement and to the interventions of a viewer.
"Venus of the Rags" (1974)
Pistoletto has made several versions of Venus of the Rags (1967, 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1980). Artist’s use of a sculpture of Venus in these works, as an iconic motif of the canon of Western art, invokes Italy’s cultural past in an ironic way.
By combining the classically-inspired statue with piled-up rags the artist announces a series of oppositions: the cultural/the everyday, monochrome/coloured, precious/disregarded, historical/contemporary and unique/common.