Michelangelo Pistoletto is an Italian artist who came to prominence in the late 1950s. In addition to being one of the main leaders of the Arte Povera movement, he is internationally recognized for his multidisciplinary approach which combines sculpture, installations and performances, often designed to interact with the public.

Michelangelo Pistoletto was born on June 25th, 1933 in Biella. His art training began at a studio in Turin owned by his father, a painter and restorer. He later attended Armando Testa’s school of graphic design.

From the very beginning, Pistoletto was intrigued by the theme of “the self”. In a series of works entitled “Il presente”, he painted his portrait on a background of clear varnish. He followed this with his series of entitled “Quadri specchianti”. These works incorporate the viewer and explore the concept of a continuous and dynamic reflection of reality in art. In a continuous reversal of perspective, his series of sculptures called “Oggetti in meno” challenges the concept of style, and his “Venere degli stracci”, sees this icon of classical sculpture turning her back to the audience.

Works like these epitomized the Arte Povera movement as theorized by Germano Celant in 1967. Pistoletto sought to bring art outside of traditional space and founded the Zoo Group, a unit that practiced “action art”.

Pistoletto’s continued interest in participatory art resulted in his founding of the Cittadellarte on the site of a former textile factory in Biella. Here he could organize seminars and present public events.

In 2003, Pistoletto was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, and in 2013 he received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award in Tokyo, both of these awards serve as recognition for his long and prestigious career in art.

G. Celant, Arte Povera; Michelangelo Pistoletto: da uno a molti, 1956-1974; M. Farano, M. C. Mundici, M. T. Roberto, Michelangelo Pistoletto. Il varco dello specchio. Azioni e collaborazioni 1967 – 2004; www.pistoletto.it; www.cittadellarte.it
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