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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Detroit
    Private Collection
    Christie's, London, The Italian Sale, 16 October 2009, lot 36
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    After Lucio Fontana’s slash on the canvas Michelangelo Pistoletto is probably the artist that, more than anybody else, has reinvented the space of the painting. With the genial intuition to substitute the canvas with a mirror he has been able to create a third dimension, less symbolic than Fontana’s but definitely more concrete. The viewer becomes the subject of the painting.

    Today Pistoletto’s mirrors are common knowledge and part of art history books, but when he conceived them in the early 60’s dissatisfied with the glossy surface of his early painting, his idea was truly daring. The exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto: A reflected world at the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis in 1966 demonstrated how much ahead of his peers Pistoletto was. One year before the Arte Povera movement was established Pistoletto had, with his mirrors, an autonomous career. The use of the Vilene, a very delicate draft architectural paper, on which Pistoletto was drawing his photo based subjects, applied on the mirror was a brilliant device to combine a very traditional medium, the drawing, with a more industrial material. All while reflecting the mood of the early 1960’s in Italy where the traditional skills had started to create a dialogue with a culture of design and industrial production.

    The coldness of the mirror and the warm feeling of the drawing on paper was combining the Italian tradition with the future, bridging two different visions of art and life. The use of a dog as a subject rather than a human figure represent a rare example of timeless work, since the dog cannot express the fashion of the time like the figures could, locking the work in a very specific historical and cultural moment. The dog has a strong dynamic, activating the empty reflecting surface more than any static figure.

    The use of the Vilene, that was abandoned by Pistoletto later on to switch to the more practical silkscreen technique, gives to the work a patina and the warm feeling of a disappearing craft. That’s why the early mirrors are in the artist’s body of work are considered the best example of a transition from a more classical generation of artists into the vanguard of the new languages and material. Michelangelo Pistoletto’s early mirrors, this being one of them, represent both a historical shift in the language of painting and the very beginning of an age that will turn art history upside down.

Ο ◆7

Violet Dog

1968
painted tissue paper on stainless steel
225 x 115 cm (88 5/8 x 45 1/4 in.)
Signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'Pistoletto >Violet Dog< 1968 Ciao!' on the reverse.

Estimate
£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £905,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016