“A great artist of our time, Michelangelo Pistoletto has been both a leading figure in contemporary thought since the 1960s and the birth of the Arte Povera movement, and the author of many theoretical essays. On the year of his landmark birthday, his work is being celebrated with numerous exhibitions in Italy (at Palazzo Reale in Milan, Chiostro del Bramante in Rome, Castello di Rivoli) and the publishing of his great theoretical work The Formula of Creation. His presence at the Louvre will be the only event celebrating an artist who is fluent in our language, as he lived and worked in France for a long time”. This is how the Louvre announces the Artist Lessons that Michelangelo Pistoletto will hold at the Michel Laclotte auditorium on 27 April, 4 May and 11 May. A series of conferences in which an exponent of contemporary art is invited to give three lectures, recounting their vision of the museum. “Dwelling place of artists, the Louvre invites contemporary artists to express the multiple relationships that their work has with the museum,” reads the press release, “this series of lectures is a counterpoint to the first six months of La chair du Louvre”. For this first edition of the initiative, the museum has chosen Michelangelo Pistoletto, guest of honour in 2013, when he was the protagonist of the exhibition Année 1 – Le Paradis sur Terre, and guest of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2022-2023, where he is currently exhibiting a set of new mirror paintings conceived around the Louvre, its works and its visitors.
The artistic bond between the Louvre and Pistoletto
“Michelangelo Pistoletto is a great artist, who has a loyal and ambitious relationship of friendship and exchange with our institution, as with the Louvre Abu Dhabi,” said Laurence des Cars, President and Director of the Louvre Museum, “his works presented in 2013 at the Louvre and currently at the Louvre Abu Dhabi show how much he draws inspiration from our museum for his creations. His idea of a museum is as much about the works housed there as it is about its mission and its audience. I am delighted that he is the first speaker of ‘Leçons d’artiste’ at the Louvre, a series of lectures intended to give back to the great artists of our time who, by highlighting their personal relationship with the museum, will open up new perspectives for us all”. Michelangelo Pistoletto’s life has in fact long been linked to the French museum: the Louvre has not only inspired some of the artist’s new works, but has likewise nourished his thinking, as expressed in numerous texts. Returning to the Louvre ten years after his first invitation, Michelangelo Pistoletto will deliver three lectures building relationships between certain aspects of his work (the mirror painting), his thought (the notion of archipelago), and the Louvre’s collections and the way in which the museum institution can be imagined today.
The three artist lectures
Michelangelo Pistoletto’s lectures will all be at 7.00 in the evening. The first, scheduled for 27 April, is entitled The Mirror-Museum: “The mirror paintings,” the presentation states, “are the signature of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s work. Reflecting their surroundings, they make the viewer enter the image. They are the symbiosis of presence and temporality. Starting with his reflections on the mirror paintings, and in particular on the recent series still on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, based on the spaces and visitors of the Louvre museum, Michelangelo Pistoletto will show how the museum, in all its layers, is itself a mirror of time”. The second, A History of Art by Michelangelo Pistoletto, will be held on 4 May: “The Louvre tells a well-defined history of art, rooted in the collections and the institution of its nine departments. In this lecture, Michelangelo Pistoletto will return to the role art history has had in relationship to his work placed in the present. He will show how in each of the Louvre’s departments there can be found resources for his work and for modern thinking about art”. Finally the last one, The Archipelago-Museum, is scheduled for 11 May: “For forty years Michelangelo Pistoletto has lived in the town where he was born, Biella, in Piedmont. He has studied the ecosystem of the place and created an institution, Cittadellarte, which aims at weaving the bonds of what he calls the ‘archipelago-city’. In this conference,” the press note concludes, “he will extend his thoughts on the concept of archipelago to the museum, questioning how the Louvre, in its physical and historical reality, can be considered an archipelago-museum”.