If a picture says more than a thousand words, what can a reflection in a mirror tell us? Italian abstract artist Michelangelo Pistoletto (1933–) uses the mirror as a medium and reflections as imagery. As one of the very first to join the Arte Povera art movement when it started in 1967, Pistoletto was among the pre-eminent artists within the movement. Using humble materials to create thought-provoking and fantastical works, Pistoletto became a leading example of what the Arte Povera movement had to offer. Accordingly, he has left a lasting imprint on subsequent generations of art in Europe.
Zoo Group and a wide repertoire
At the outset of Pistoletto’s career, his output consisted mainly of paintings, especially figurative art and self-portraits. Later, his art began to encompass photography, sculpture and collages, and eventually went on to include installation art, performance, video and theatre. His attention became so strongly focused on performance, video and theatre that he founded the action art group ‘Zoo Group’, which presented performance art where the creation of art works was part of the performance.
Mirrors and the virtual space
A central aspect of Pistoletto’s art concerns the relationship between the viewer, the work of art, and the distance between them. The polarisation between the dynamic quality of the reflection in the mirror and the static nature of the subject’s constant presence paves the way for explorations of reality and the virtual space in the mirror. Thus, the viewer reflected in the mirror becomes part of the work of art in itself, and this makes each reflection, every single second, a unique art experience.