Michelangelo Pistoletto was born in Biella in 1933. His artistic training began at the studio of his father, painter and restorer, and attending school was the school of advertising graphics directed by Armando Testa.
His research is directed, initially, towards the self-portrait which, in the second half of the Fifties, will characterize his pictorial production.
After receiving the San Fedele Award in Milan in 1958, in 1960 Pistoletto held his first solo exhibition at the Galatea Gallery in Turin. Meanwhile, his artistic research continues on the front of self-portraits, even on monochrome gold, silver or copper backgrounds.
In 1962 he completed his technique par excellence, that is the photographic report on vellum paper applied on a mirror-polished stainless steel plate, which allows him to realize the famous Mirror paintings, which make the viewer and his time an integral part of the ‘work, involving him directly. Through these paintings, exhibited for the first time at the Galatea Gallery in 1963, Pistoletto achieved international success, which led him to be present at the most important artistic events linked to currents such as Pop Art and Nouveau Realisme.
Already during the Sixties, Pistoletto held personal exhibitions at the most prestigious galleries and major museums in Europe and the United States.
At the Galleria Sperone in Turin, in 1964, he exhibited a group of works, the Plexiglass, which represent a first transposition into the real space of the new spatial dimension already opened by the mirror paintings.
Between 1965 and 1966 he exhibited, in his studio, some works entitled Objects less, works considered basic for the subsequent development of the so-called Arte Povera, an artistic movement of which Pistoletto is an animator and protagonist.
Since 1967, in the context of his studio, the Zoo group has come to life, made up of people from different artistic disciplines, together with whom the artist creates some creative collaborations.
From 1975 to 1976 Pistoletto dedicated himself to creating a single work divided into twelve consecutive exhibitions entitled The Rooms, organized in the spaces of the Galleria Stein in Turin. This is the first of a series of works developed by Pistoletto over the course of a year, called “continents of time”.
In the two-year period 1978-79 he presented his works in different cities of the United States and in Atlanta he developed a wide creative collaboration, extended to the whole city, together with some artists with whom he had previously worked.
1981 is the year in which Pistoletto exhibits, at the Salvatore Ala Gallery in New York, La natività, or its first group of sculptural production in rigid polyurethane that will characterize its production in the first half of the 1980s.
Subsequently, he developed a new cycle of works, consisting of surfaces and volumes in anonymous material, with dark colors, called Arte dello squallore, which he exhibited at some galleries in Turin.
From 1991 to 1999, he also held the chair of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, instilling in his students his ideal of knocking down the traditional barriers present between the various artistic disciplines.
In favor of its objectives of putting art at the center of a socially responsible transformation, in 1994, the Art Project comes to life, accompanied by: a programmatic manifesto, public meetings, events and exhibitions involving artists of different disciplines, representatives of different sectors of the city.
In the same direction is the establishment of the Cittadella-Fondazione Pistoletto, located in a former factory in Biella, within which the aims set by the Arte Project continue to develop.
In 2002 Pistoletto was appointed director of the Turin Biennale Arte Giovane Young and, in the same year, he received the Diploma of Merit of Culture and Art by the Presidency of the Republic.
This was followed, in 2003, by the assignment of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale, an occasion in which his new Love Difference-Artistic Movement project was presented for an Inter-Mediterranean Policy, for which the artist created a large table mirror-like shape of the Mediterranean basin, around which to carry out the future activities envisaged by the project.
In 2004 Pistoletto was awarded the honoris causa degree in Political Science by the University of Turin and announced a new phase of his work called Terzo Paradiso.
Thanks to his sparkling career, he was also honored in Jerusalem in 2007 with the Wolf Foundation Prize in Arts.
Finally, in 2010, in addition to having written the essay “Il Terzo Paradiso”, Pistoletto was named Artistic Director of Event 2011 in Bordeaux.
In 2012 he promoted Rebirth-day, the first universal day of rebirth, an initiative that gave rise, on December 21st, to over a hundred events worldwide.
In 2013, from April to September, his personal exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto takes place, année un – le paradis sur terre at the Louvre Museum in Paris. In this same year Michelangelo Pistoletto received the Praemium Imperiale for painting in Tokyo.
Main solo exhibitions in museums:
He has participated in twelve editions of the Venice Biennale (1966, 1968, 1976, 1978, 1984, 1986, 1993, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2011) and at four of the Kassel Documenta (1968, 1982, 1992, 1997).
His works are present in the collections of the major modern and contemporary art museums, including: