Perhaps photographing Michelangelo Pistoletto’s work ought to be considered an art in its own right. In photos of Pistoletto’s show Lavoro, at Luhring Augustine Gallery through April 28, it is difficult to tell what is part of the artist’s original composition, silkscreened onto mirror, and what is a reflection.
At least that’s the case with my photos. The gallery website provides you with the works sans reflection
. But maybe my photos show better what it is like to view the exhibition, and particularly the immersive quality with which Pistoletto draws the viewer and the temporal setting into play with the realistic scenes he creates. The ladies in the background above, and myself below, deserve such a prominent place when looking at and talking about the artist’s work. Pistoletto begins to create them, but the works are complete when placed in a room and viewed by a person.
Lavoro is Italian for work. The bright colors, hyperrealistic treatment of surfaces, and prosaic tools depicted here relate to the industrial kind of work done in warehouses and on construction sites.
Pistoletto began painting on mirror as early as the 1960s. (I wrote about Pistoletto’s early work and original mirror paintings here after visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art retrospective in 2010.) His cropped compositions and bold color are different here, looking much more like photographs and much less like the delicate portraits on tissue he used to paint. They look like their respective times in that way.
I especially like the sign here, telling the viewer: “Public forbidden to enter.”