In the early sixties, the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto began to incorporate photographs into his paintings. Later, he mounted his full-length figures upon polished steel backgrounds in an attempt to involve the viewer in the picture through the mirror image. These ‘permanent happenings’ combined reality and the present with representation and the past. His use of collage techniques and his subjects, which are often rooted in daily life, led to his association with Pop Art. With Venus in Rags (1967), in which he juxtaposed a cast of a classical nude with a pile of brightly coloured rags, he created an iconic work exploring the relation between tradition and transience. As an Italian artist, he also became a leading figure of the Arte Povera movement. By using ordinary, or ‘poor’ but ‘honest’, materials and looking for elementary experiences, the artists connected to this group aimed to create an art of the ‘essential’ – instead of a ‘superficial’ art that privileged sensation over knowledge. In his hometown of Biella, Pistoletto created the Cittadellarte foundation as a laboratory to support creativity, innovative ideas and new possibilities.
Michelangelo Pistoletto has recently exhibited in BOZAR, Brussels (2012-13) and, later this year, his work will be shown in a major exhibition throughout the Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris: Michelangelo Pistoletto – Année 1, le Paradis sur Terre.
Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella, Italy, in 1933. He continues to live and work there.