Michelangelo Pistoletto, born in 1933 in Biella, Italy, embarked on his artistic journey in 1955. By 1960, he was already presenting a solo exhibition at Galleria Galatea in Turin. Initially, he delved deep into self-portraiture, exploring his identity through art.
However, between 1961 and 1962, a significant shift occurred. Michelangelo Pistoletto introduced the world to his transformative Mirror Paintings. These weren’t mere paintings. Instead, they actively engaged the viewer, drawing them into the narrative in real-time. This innovative approach effectively turned the tables on the Renaissance perspective, which had been the gold standard until the twentieth-century avant-gardes came along. Consequently, these paintings catapulted Pistoletto to international fame, leading to exhibitions in esteemed galleries across Europe and the US.
Pistoletto viewed mirrors as more than just reflective surfaces; for him, they represented a quest for identity. He elaborated on this concept in his manifesto, ‘Hominitheism and Demopraxy.’ Venturing into the mirror, he sought to uncover his true self. Leveraging his rich artistic heritage, he gravitated towards the self-portrait, using the mirror as both a guide and a canvas.
Moreover, the mirror served another crucial role: it captured the essence of the world around him. In doing so, Pistoletto’s self-portrait evolved into a global narrative, transcending personal boundaries. Through his art, he not only discovered himself but also unveiled the world beyond. He believed that every reflection was a universal identity, resonating with everyone.