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MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts Michelangelo Pistoletto Exhibitions

Michelangelo Pistoletto: Da Uno a Molti, 1956–1974 and Cittadellarte are the two exhibitions that MAXXI, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is devoting to the great Italian artist and will open to the public from March 4th to August 15th 2011.

With more than 100 works on view coming from public and private, Italian and international collections, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Da Uno a Molti, 1956–1974 presents one of the most important living Italian artists, internationally recognised as a key figure in contemporary art, one of the founding members of the Arte Povera movement and a figure of reference to the younger generations. He was awarded a Leone d’Oro at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and considered in the United States as a forerunner of participatory artistic practices.

Cittadellarte focuses on the homonymous creative laboratory founded by Pistoletto in Biella in 1998, which fosters art’s capacity for networking and direct social interaction. Pistoletto’s project is based on the experimental artistic practices of the 1960s that provided for the direct involvement and active participation of the public.

The exhibition examines the development of Pistoletto’s artistic career, from a rigorous analysis of the representation of the self through the development of the collaborative initiatives that characterise his research.

The works are arranged in three main groups.

The Mirror Paintings and the Plexiglas works are exhibited together, respecting the conceptual grouping originally devised by the artist. Here Pistoletto portrays friends, relatives and acquaintances as well as the groups of people in the Rallies and Demonstrations series in which he investigates socio-political themes.

The Minus Objects and the Rags and the works from the series Lights and Reflections are presented together in a single room. The Rags, previously used by Pistoletto to polish his mirrors, transcend their original function and become works of art: the iconic Venus in Rags, exhibited here, may be considered as the symbol of Arte Povera.

A separate space has been reserved for the actions and performances of the street theatre group Lo Zoo and presents props associated with the performances, videos and photographic documentation.

All these works help describe Pistoletto’s work within the context of the post-war transformations that affected Italy, Western Europe and North America, exploring the relationships between his work and Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art and, in particular, emphasising the collaborative aspect of his work that characterised his research from the mid-1950s.

With Cittadellarte Pistoletto placed the ethical transformation of society at the centre of his work: art becomes civic and social commitment through the work conducted by independent offices dedicated to diverse sectors including—exhibited at MAXXI – Architecture, Education, Fashion, Politics, Production, Strategy and Communications.

Visitors are greeted in the Gian Ferrari Hall by the great suspended installation New Sign of the Infinite: this is the symbol of the Third Paradise, a project intended to encourage science, technology, art, culture and politics to restore life to the earth through the passage to a new level of planetary civilization.

Also featuring in the exhibition is Mar Mediterraneo – Love Difference, the mirror table surrounded by 23 different chairs that traces the shape of the Mare Nostrum, symbol of the encounter between different cultures and the love of diversity presented by the Office of Politics; a wall of straw, a natural, widely available, extremely versatile low-cost material represents the Architecture Office; the eco-sustainable creations in fabrics and yarns by 11 stylists, selected by Michelangelo Pistoletto and Franca Sozzani, present the Fashion Office while the seven works by artists from the Cittadellarte network, in collaboration with the craftsmen of Biella and Trento, compose the mosaic in progress of the Production Office.

Throughout the run of the exhibition, a vast array of programming associated with Cittadellarte and organized by the MAXXI Education Department will represent an opportunity for the museum to collaborate with organizations active within the social fabric of the city and with local institutions.

As Pio Baldi, President of the Fondazione MAXXI said, “MAXXI is forging ahead with its principal mission of promoting Italian contemporary art. This exhibition, the most comprehensive organized in many years, is devoted to an internationally recognised trend-setting artist. It is no coincidence that it is the fruit of a fundamental collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

“Pistoletto’s work,” said Anna Mattirolo, Director of MAXXI Arte, “is the most explicit example of how a career rooted in the last century has affected the most recent research, opening to the ethical front of art that points those willing to listen to in the direction of a better future.”

“Within Pistoletto’s artistic career,” said Carlos Basualdo, curator of the exhibitions, “we may perhaps find between 1956 and 1974 not only a reflection of the trials and tribulations suffered by a society in rapid transformation, but also a key to understand the current situation.”

Image: Michelangelo Pistoletto, “Venus of the Rags,” 1967. Marble and rags, 190 x 250 x 140 cm. Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto. Photo by Paolo Pellion di Persano

MAXXI – National Museum of XXI Century Arts
Via Guido Reni 4A – 00196 Rome
Info: +39 06 399.67.350
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