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  • Provenance

    Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan
    Christie's, London, Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 8 February 2007, Lot 11

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I used the high-tech material of stainless steel but it is intended as a mirror, as water, as glass. It is not intended to register industrial production. The concept of polished metal is, afer all, antique: mirrors did not begin as glass but as polished metal.” MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO

    Since the 1964 Sonnabend exhibition in Paris, Michelangelo Pistoletto has been acclaimed internationally for his ‘mirror paintings’. Pistoletto found in the mirror the congenial material for his practice and theory as a sight for exploring ideas of time, perspective and image-making. The work is visually straightforward, a flat vertical mirror on which a coloured silkscreen has been applied. The latter represents the life-size image of the artist in 1970s clothes and haircut, giving his back to us. The viewer enters the work through his reflection; however, completely absorbed in his fictitious conversation on the phone, the artist does not seem to notice such an intrusion. The historically connotated image of the artist and the viewer’s reflection co-exist on the mirrored surface as co-protagonists of the work of art; past and present are intertwined, revealing the mirror’s state of flux, its potential to always actualize itself while maintaining a link with the past. Never so radically and clearly, has time entered the art work as one of its fundamental coordinates. This experience of fluctuating time is felt/experienced not only by the viewer but also by the artist. Indeed, his ‘mirror paintings’ are a fruitful project through which Pistoletto explores the relationship between himself and ‘the world in time’. The mirror is the eye that sees reality, absorbs it and projects it back as revelation: the image of ourselves and of the space that surrounds us not only becomes available to our eyes, but is also perfectly volumetric and in perspective. "A mirror expands the possibilities of the eye and the capacity of the mind so far as to offer a vision of totality." (M. Pistoletto, L'arte assume la religione, 1978 quoted in Germano Celant, Michelangelo Pistoletto, New York, 1989, p. 28).

    Confronting the traditional ‘problem’ of the canvas as flat surface representing a three-dimentional representation, Pistoletto offers a solution to an issue that obsessed artists such as Cezanne, Duchamp, Pollock, and Fontana. By absorbing reality without denying its material nature, the mirror synthesises both Renaissance perspective, though portrayed in reverse, and flatness of the surface. "The problem becomes clear, crystal clear: the artist’s canvas becomes a mirror." (exh. cat. 'Michelangelo Pistoletto. Il tavolo del giudizio', Galleria Lucrezia De Domizio, Pescara, 1980). Art enters life and life becomes art. The work is not a point of view, as it would have been on a canvas, but a real ‘territory’ in which the self exists and moves; this aspect can be linked to Pistoletto’s interest in performance art, the inclusion of the spectator into the artwork and the theatricality of the everyday. Furthermore the work stands as an iconic example of Arte Povera, of which Pistoletto was one of its major exponents; the canvas is no longer the sole possible site for art, paint no longer the only material, the everyday object takes over, creating further content and meaning to the artwork. "Art has found room to take its first steps along a new path: the things of life no longer pile up on the wall of art, but art enters into life, while one by one all the things that are not art arrive on the threshold of the mirror."


Uomo con gli stivali al telefono

painted tissue on steel
230 x 120 cm. (90 1/2 x 47 1/4 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'Pistoletto 1970 "uomo con gli stivali al telefono" "Love"' on the reverse.

£350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for £614,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Evening Sale 10 February 2014 7pm