Italian, born 1933
A leading figure in the development of Arte Povera and Conceptual art, Michelangelo Pistoletto is best known for his “mirror paintings” beginning in the 1960s, which first used grounds of metallic paint on canvas before rejecting canvas entirely for polished steel. Pistoletto’s life-size, photo-silkscreened images of people atop highly reflective surfaces integrate the environment and viewer into the work. In his “minus objects,” sculptures that explore how objects become artworks through the ideas they express, Pistoletto uses “poor” materials as a liberation from the traditional art system, as in his 1967 work Venus of the Rags, a copy of the classical figure set against a mound of old clothes and rags. An early performance art innovator, Pistoletto founded The Zoo in the late 1960s, which joined artists, intellectuals, and the public for collaborative “actions” that unified art and daily life.