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PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Michelangelo Pistoletto
AMANTI (LOVERS)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
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Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,300,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,634,800 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
20

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Michelangelo Pistoletto
AMANTI (LOVERS)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,300,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,634,800 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Michelangelo Pistoletto
B. 1933
AMANTI (LOVERS)
signed and titled on the reverse
painted tissue paper on polished stainless steel
230.5 by 120 cm. 90 3/4 by 47 1/4 in.
Executed in 1962-66.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, Paris

Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1968)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Venice, XXXIII Biennale Internazionale d’Arte di Venezia, June - October 1966

São Paulo, IX Bienal de São Paulo, September - December 1967, n.p. (text)

Catalogue Note

In 1962, Michelangelo Pistoletto transformed the intimate moment of a couple's passionate embrace into an artistic spectacle. A snapshot of two lovers presented on a reflective mirrored surface, Amanti (Lovers) is a seminal example of Pistoletto’s most recognisable and celebrated series, the Quadri Specchiati or Mirror Paintings. By inviting the viewer into a complex reciprocal dialogue with the intermediary figures in the painting, the spectator becomes a voyeuristic bystander in a very private moment. Two spectral worlds collide as the static photographic image, taken of a single moment in the past, stands side by side with the viewer's own reflected image in the present. This interactive aspect of the Mirror Paintings redefined the static perception of painting and challenged the deliberate involvement of the spectator. 

Taking on one of the most prevailing themes in art history, Amanti firmly installs Pistoletto within a pantheon of artistic goliaths. Lovers have been one of the most ubiquitous subjects in art for centuries, offering insights into the vicissitudes of social norms, artistic styles, and the omnipresent idealism toward the cultural constructions of love. One of the most renowned depictions of two lovers is Auguste Rodin’s marble sculpture The Kiss from 1882–1889. It portrays the adulterous lovers Paolo and Francesca sharing their first kiss; caught in the act by Francesca’s husband, they were both killed. The controversial subject and overt eroticism of the work was hugely polemic when it was first exhibited in 1887. A few decades later the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt created a modern masterpiece of the same title. With its intricate detailing and lavish use of gold leaf, Klimt’s The Kiss from 1907-08 is paradigmatic of the artist’s notorious golden period and is commonly believed to depict Klimt and his long-time partner Emilie Flöge. Reinterpreting the popular subject in his iconic Pop art style, Roy Lichtenstein portrayed two lovers in a passionate embrace in his 1962 painting The Kiss II. Synchronously incorporating both the quotidian materialism of Arte Povera with its metallic surface, and the mass-produced quality of Pop art via the photographic image, in Amanti Pistoletto forges an entirely unique aesthetic. Blurring the lines between representation and reality, the painting becomes a living space for anyone to inhabit.

Looking back on the genesis of his career defining Mirror Paintings, Pistoletto recalled his frustration with the inadequate relationship between traditional painting and reality. He explained: “When I realized that someone like Pollock, although he attempted to transfer life onto canvas through action, did not succeed in taking possession of the work, which continued to escape him, remaining autonomous, and that the presence of the human figure in the painting of Bacon did not succeed in rendering a pathological vision of reality... I understood that the moment had arrived to make the laws of objective reality enter the painting” (Michelangelo Pistoletto, cited in: Germano Celant, Identité Italienne, Paris 1981, p. 81). Pistoletto first experimented with a reflective ground in 1956 in a series of self-portraits on a shiny painted surface. During the early 1960s, the artist refined his process by substituting the glossy ground for a highly polished stainless steel one, onto which he pasted finely rendered photo-realist images that were painted on tissue paper. While toying with the dominant Pop aesthetic of the time, Pistoletto was also highly influenced by Lucio Fontana. The essence of Fontana’s Spatialismo Manifesto, to refute the traditional parameters of two-dimensional painting and create a space in which the viewer actively explores the possibilities of art, is echoed in the phantasmagorical Mirror Paintings. Extending his practice beyond the discipline of oil on canvas by painting on a reflective surface, Pistoletto unravelled the distortive illusionism of perspective. Masterfully appropriating the language of trompe-l’oeil to entirely subvert it, the Mirror Paintings position themselves within a grand conceptual tradition that dates back to Diego Velázquez and Édouard Manet. What distinguishes Pistoletto’s work, however, is a theatrical dramaturgy that infuses these pieces with rich performativity to substantiate and conflate both past and present. This is particularly evident in works such as Amanti, wherein the self-absorbed and self-contained subject matter overtly emphasises the intrusive presence of the viewer. Herein, Pistoletto integrates living participants into what he has defined as not just the ‘theatre’ of painting, but an entire world-theatre that embraces all aspects of life.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London