- Michelangelo Pistoletto
- Visitatrice con Catalogo
- signed, titled and dated 1969 on the reverse
- painted tissue paper collage on stainless steel
Galleria dell'Ariete, Milan
Galleria Toninelli Arte Moderna, Milan
Private Collection, Switzerland
Sale: Sotheby's, London, 20th Century Italian Art, 25 October 2000, Lot 41
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1973-74, no. 12
A definitive exponent of self-reference and a seminal model for post-Modernism, Michelangelo Pistoletto's Visitatrice con Catalogo of 1969 is a paragon of his famous and highly-esteemed Mirror Paintings. Including the depiction of a woman who is thoughtfully holding her hand to her chin and casually holding a catalogue that ironically bears the artist's own name, this work is a masterpiece of satirical purity. The catalogue is for the monographic exhibition for Pistoletto held at the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam between March and May 1969, and the female protagonist, representing the stereotypical gallery-viewer, is presumed to parallel the spectator who is standing in front of the present work. By declared advertisement and physical necessity, not only are both she and we looking at the work of Pistoletto, but also the representations of both she and us are simultaneously contained within Pistoletto's actual picture plane itself.
Pistoletto's figure occupies the left side of the mirror, leaving a large part of the remaining surface empty for the real world to be reflected in. Indeed, the polished stainless steel becomes a threshold, creating at the same time a world of real and reflected images, as well as conflating physical and pictorial space. Having first experimented with surface reflection in 1956 with a series of self-portraits painted on varnished and shiny backgrounds, Pistoletto reserved his use of painted tissue-paper for his most important works, whereas other Mirror Paintings have silk-screens of photographs transferred onto their steel surface. The environment in front of the mirror is continually depicted, capturing the unending space within the picture frame. This representational dynamism is compounded by the dichotomy between the static painted image and the constant evolution of the reflections in the mirror. Investigating the fourth dimension; time; Pistoletto's forever-evolving work finally provides entirely new parameters for representation, as summarized by Germano Celant: "Pistoletto offers a surface open to all present and future transit, a hypersensitive organism for receiving and transmitting" (Germano Celant in: Exhibition Catalogue, New York, The Institute for Contemporary Art, P.S.1 Museum, Pistoletto, Division and Multiplication of the Mirror, 1988, p. 22).