21
21

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Michelangelo Pistoletto
TENDA BLU (BLUE CURTAIN)
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.
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 621,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
21

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT NORTH AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Michelangelo Pistoletto
TENDA BLU (BLUE CURTAIN)
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.
400,000600,000
LOT SOLD. 621,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Michelangelo Pistoletto
B. 1933
TENDA BLU (BLUE CURTAIN)
signed, titled and dated 67 on the reverse
painted tissue paper on polished stainless steel
120.3 by 150.5 cm. 47 3/8 by 59 1/2 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Dr. Martyna Miskinis, Orchard Lake

The Estate of Dr. Martyna Miskinis, Orchard Lake

Wright, New York, The Dr. Martyna Miskinis Collection, 23 September 2014, Lot 103

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Pistoletto Introduction

One of the leading contemporary artists of our time, Michelangelo Pistoletto was a key figure in the development of conceptual art in Italy and Arte Povera in particular. Born in Biella, Italy, in 1933, he began as a painter in the mid-1950s, and in the 1960s embarked upon his most important and instantly recognisable series, the Quadri Specchiati or Mirror Paintings. In a radical and eloquent use of the reflective surface, these works brake down the traditional notions of figurative art and interweave the exalted and immortal dimension of the artwork with the changeable and transitory conditions of existence. Pistoletto has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2003. His prolific work was recently heralded in a major exhibition at the Philadelphia Musuem of Art in 2010, at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2011 and the Blenheim Palace from September to December 2016.

Beguiling, restrained and yet unerringly radical, Tenda blu is an enchanting exploration of the relation between the viewer, reflectivity, artistic representation, and that specific part of spacetime that Michelangelo Pistoletto's Mirror Paintings spectacularly occupy. Flowing cobalt folds of elegant painted tissue paper hang delicately over a square of dazzlingly reflective, polished stainless steel, more than half of which is hidden by the titular blue curtain. Via the mediation of bilateral inversion, the viewer sees themselves in the liminal strip of reflective steel that comprises the work’s background. Part of the pioneering and career-defining series of Mirror Paintings, Tenda blu belongs to a vast array of experiments by Pistoletto – begun in the early 1960s – that culminated in the coexistence of an instantaneous, mirror image with a doubly-inverted and subsequently corrected photographic figure. Using by turns aluminium sheets, mirror-finished steel, polished stainless steel, photography and photographic gelatine, every work in this series transforms the viewer’s self-directed gaze into an essential part of the overall aesthetic product: interrogating the complex and symbiotic nexus between physical, psychosocial, virtual and subjective space.

As the viewer self-regards, they become aware of the continual slippage of so-called ‘present experience’: that each supposedly present moment is either unrecognised, or consigned to the immediate past by recognition. The curtain recalls both the ‘moving torch’ of the present moment – briefly illuminating a tiny subset of spacetime points as it traces a path along a continuum – and the unknown, unfathomable past and future. And yet, in making the viewer’s transient experience necessary for the completion of the artwork, Pistoletto builds upon a rich art historical tradition canonised, not by conceptual artists of the 1960s, but by Baroque masters such as Diego Velázquez and his masterpiece, Las Meninas (1656). In this painting, the artist depicts himself behind an easel accompanied by a number of others, all of whom look at an absent King and Queen whose unseen position is occupied by us, the viewer. The regal status conferred to the viewer is metaphoric of their power in the construction of the artwork: without our voluntary investment in the fiction of artistic representation, there is no finished article; just its preconditions. Tenda blu and the Mirror Paintings can plausibly be seen as at once embodying, and thereby demonstrating, these compelling theoretical propositions.

The return announced by the Mirror Paintings to the contextualised present is a thrilling response to the exaggerated, de-politicising emphasis on isolated subjectivities perpetuated by Abstract Expressionism.  Arte Povera re-conferred power to the viewer, and it is no coincidence that works like Tenda blu immediately preceded the seismic political engagement of the late 1960s in Italy and France. In reminding us of our ability to sculpt the present moment into an artwork, the mutability of the power structures determining the limits of our experience is conjured in negative space. Capturing this future orientation, Pistoletto writes: “the mirror isn’t a wall, it’s always in the future, all that is to happen tomorrow is already in it” (Michelangelo Pistoletto cited in: Maiten Bouisset, ‘Effets de Miroir, Art Press, No. 189, March 1994, p. 35).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London