- Michelangelo Pistoletto
- Senza Titolo (Untitled)
- silkscreen on polished stainless steel
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989
In keeping with the best of the Quadri Specchanti, the present work does not deliver a snapshot of a moment in time, but rather offers the viewer a transitory experience. Catching glimpses of their immediate surroundings within the reflective surface of the present work, the viewer becomes an active participant in Pistoletto's unique illusory artifice. Confusing traditional boundaries and projected into the realm beyond the picture plane, the subject enters into an active visual dialogue with the life-size image of an elusive male figure; indeed, catapulted into the space in front of the standing man, the viewer becomes the implied object of his gaze.
The son of a picture restorer, Pistoletto was well versed in the canon of Western art. He would doubtless have been aware of the iconological pedigree held by the mirror; he would've known how artists like Jan Van Eyck, Paolo Veronese, and Diego Velázquez used reflective surfaces to force viewers to engage with their works on an immediate level, and he would have understood the artistic conceit that their mirror depictions afforded. However, if these Old Masters started the practice and formed the tradition, Pistoletto advanced it hugely and asserted his own role within the discourse. Where his aesthetic antecedents had included mirrors within their works – glimpses of an apparent reality within a wider illusion – Pistoletto includes his whole work within a mirror-like reflective surface and thus projects his illusion directly into the viewer's reality. This technique inverts the picture plane, so that it becomes an axis around which the physical fact of the viewing space and the illusory representation of the work blur and intermingle.
In his celebrated Quadri Specchianti the artist creates an entirely unique artistic language that synthesises the eminent and immortal dimension of the artwork with the unpredictable and fleeting conditions of existence. Presenting an immersive and perfomative dialogue with the viewer, the present work is a compelling example from this ground-breaking corpus – a striking paragon of that ambiguous threshold between art and reality that is so characteristic of Pistoletto's work.