Arte Povera Pioneer Michelangelo Pistoletto Has Transformed Shelves of Stuff Into Polished Paintings—See Them Here

The Italian conceptual artist’s new series of mirror paintings at Simon Lee Gallery celebrate the humble storage unit.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Scaffali - Accademia de Bellas Artes, La Habana con uovo (Shelves – Academy of Bellas Artes, La Habana with egg) (2015), image copyright the artist, courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery.

“Michelangelo Pistoletto: Scaffali”

Simon Lee Gallery, London

February 23–April 7, 2018

What the Gallery Says: “In the ‘Scaffali,’ Pistoletto takes his investigation into the relationship between stasis and activity in the mirror paintings a step further. Depicting display cabinets and industrial storage units laden with the tools of a broad range of trades, the ‘Scaffali’ evoke a sense of dormancy at odds with the ever fluctuating presence of the viewer. Yet just as the spectator introduces a sense of animation into the stillness of the image, each painting evokes an element of anticipation, as though the viewer may at any moment reach for an object on a shelf.”

Why It’s Worth a Look: In Pistoletto’s new series, the veteran Italian artist and key figure in the Arte Povera movement applies his trademark technique—transferring photo-silkscreened images to highly polished stainless steel—to images of the humblest objects. His subjects include paint cans and a ceramic cat on a storage shelf in Havana’s Academy of Fine Arts, electrical spare parts, piles of laundry, and cheap ceramic vases from anonymous places. Pistoletto reminds us that even the stuff we chuck into storage is worth a second look.

What It Looks Like:

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Scaffali – attrezzature elettriche (Shelves – electrical equipment) (2015), image copyright the artist, courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery.

Michelangelo Pistoletto Scaffali – contenitori in plastica, con secchio giallo (Shelves – plastic containers, with yellow bucket) (2015), image copyright the artist, courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery.

Michelangelo Pistoletto Scaffali – contenitori metallici e motori (Shelves – metal containers and motors) (2015), image copyright the artist, courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Scaffali – Vasi Cinesi (Shelves – Chinese Vases) (2016), image copyright the artist, courtesy of Simon Lee Gallery.

“Michelangelo Pistoletto: Scaffali” at Simon Lee Gallery, London, courtesy of the gallery.

“Michelangelo Pistoletto: Scaffali” at Simon Lee Gallery, London, courtesy of the gallery.

“Michelangelo Pistoletto: Scaffali” at Simon Lee Gallery, London, courtesy of the gallery.


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