Michelangelo Pistoletto’s ‘Sphere of Newspapers’ at Il Sole 24 Ore
The artist donated his work to mark the 40th anniversary of the newspaper's Sunday supplement 'Domenica'. As part of the celebrations of the editorial anniversary, the newspaper has hosted a closed-door meeting for the newspaper's employees, in which Pistoletto spoke with Stefano Salis about his artistic practice.

In Milan, at the entrance to the ‘home’ of Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian economic, political and financial daily, the most widely circulated in its sector and the fifth largest in the country, there is now a work of art welcoming reporters, employees and guests. It is a new Sphere of Newspapers (2023) by Michelangelo Pistoletto, different versions of which have been presented in various national and international exhibitions and events since 1965; and on the occasion of the celebrations for the 40th anniversary¹ of the supplement Domenica (‘Sunday’, December 2023), Pistoletto donated one to the newspaper: the installation, which will be on loan for a year, was specially created for Il Sole 24 Ore – it is composed of the newspaper’s pages – and can currently be viewed in the lobby of their offices in Viale Sarca 223. To celebrate the anniversary, a closed-door conference was held in their auditorium for the employees of the Sole 24 Ore Group – the leading multimedia publishing group, active in Italy in the economic, financial, professional and cultural information sector – in which the artist dialogued with Stefano Salis, head of the editorial staff of Comments and Domenica. It was an informal and yet authoritative conversation: Pistoletto offered an insight into his life as an artist, ranging from the Venus of the Rags to the Mirror Paintings, from the Third Paradise to the Preventive Peace and Cittadellarte.

The birth of the work
On 4 December 1967, Pistoletto performed the action Walking Sculpture as part of the group show Con temp l’azione, which took place simultaneously in three Turin galleries (Sperone, Stein and Il punto). For this action, the artist used one of the Minus Objects, the Sphere of Newspapers, a sphere of about one metre in diameter formed by newspaper pages soaked in water and pressed together. Two other spheres of newspapers were part of two other Minus Objects: Sphere under the Bed (1965-1966), consisting of a smaller sphere of newspapers placed under the artist’s bed and illuminated by a spotlight, and Large Sphere of Newspapers. Project for a Museum (1966), which only existed as a model at the time: it was intended to never leave the exhibition space, as it was to be built inside it until it occupied the maximum dimensions of the room, created on the occasion of the 1976 Venice Biennale. On the evening of the opening of the exhibition Con temp l’azione, the Sphere of Newspapers was renamed the Walking Sculpture and rolled along the streets connecting the three galleries by Pistoletto together with some of the artists in the exhibition, including Gilberto Zorio, Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti, Gianni Piacentino, Ugo Nespolo, curator Daniela Palazzoli, gallery owner Gian Enzo Sperone, critic Tommaso Trini and other occasional passers-by. The action was repeated in January 1968, again along the streets of Turin, this time with the participation of Maria Pioppi. Ugo Nespolo filmed the action in December and January and used the footage for the film Buongiorno Michelangelo. Over the following decades, the Walking Sculpture performance would be repeated many times, with or without Pistoletto’s participation. In 1993, the action was also included in the art instruction project Do it curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

The Third Page in Il Sole 24 Ore
On Sunday 7 April, the daily newspaper had a page featuring a contribution signed by Michelangelo Pistolettoand Paolo Naldini, director of Cittadellarte. The newspaper not only announced the conference offering a focus on the Pistoletto Foundation, it also gave the two guests a written voice. “There was a sphere of newspapers, or rather there are spheres of newspapers rolling through the streets and squares of the world pushed by adults and children. The Sphere of Newspapers, of one metre in diameter, is a work that was born in 1965 and left the artist’s studio in 1967,” reads an excerpt from the artist’s and Naldini’s editorial, “to then be multiplied into innumerable spheres that roll among people, in the space and time of our lives. It was born in the artist’s workshop, but has become a commonly practised object. It contains a symbolic value that from art enters into life. Indeed, it spins and rolls like the sphere of chance, which from roulette wheels to football pitches keeps magnetising humanity and electrifying society. The newspapers of the sphere are the information and communication that daily and now instantaneously unite the people of the world through printing, television and digital technology. The work that rolls down the street is no longer the object Duchampianally removed from common life to be ennobled and sacralised in the museum temple, it is an example of the sacred nobility of art that comes out of the studio of the artist to become a manifestation shared by all”.

An afternoon of art with Pistoletto
In a packed hall, the conference started with the greetings of Mirja Cartia d’Asero, managing director of Il Sole 24 Ore: “We ‘are’ not only economics and finance, but also culture,” she said, “and this is why it is a great pleasure to host today’s appointment with Michelangelo Pistoletto and have his work at our entrance”. Next, Stefano Salis introduced the artist and Cittadellarte, presenting it as a propulsive centre of contemporary art: “For you, Michelangelo, the faculty of creation must be applied in the game of life. How can it be applied in everyday life?”. Pistoletto responded by revealing the key element in articulating this process: “You have to start, even as a child, from the Third Paradise. In fact when the new generations leave home to play football, for example, they are actually playing at life, entering a world made up of continuous interactions and unions of differences. From a very young age, they find themselves facing society and its predatory system. But if in the past man needed animalistic rapacity to survive, this is no longer necessary: through science and culture we can all survive without eating each other, also avoiding cultural cannibalism”.

The journalist then mentioned preventive peace, also in reference to the exhibition hosted at Palazzo Reale in Milan earlier this year: “Peace,” the artist asserted, “is a human invention, while war comes from nature; harmony lies in peaceful contrast”. Speaking of harmony between peoples, the artist went on to talk about the sculpture Rebirth, located at the United Nations in Geneva: “That installation of the Third Paradise is composed of different stones, each coming from different UN countries. This symbol, which has no borders, means that there is a void in the middle between the two circles in which these two circles create their connection”. The founder of Cittadellarte then moved on to his Mirror Paintings: “The mirror,” he explained, “is zero, it collects all possible images. The mirror, however, is not art, it is an object that reflects the present of each instant. The screen-printed image I place on it does exactly the opposite: it becomes a time portal, fixing a moment in the past memory”. The conversation continued with a series of reflections on the Progetto Arte Manifesto, the Pistoletto Foundation, the artist’s responsibility and demopraxia, and then touched on the Venus of Rags: “The Venus, an idea of beauty that spans all times, embraces a large quantity of rags that represent waste. Thus, the Venus also turns rags into a myth, i.e. consumerism: we do not produce because we need to, but because we often feel the need to consume”. Pistoletto concluded with an invitation to those present: “Artists have the privilege to create, but everyone has creative responsibility, especially through dualities. This is how we change the world”.

¹ The series of initiatives to celebrate Domenica‘s 40th birthday has recently won the Webby Honoree at the 28th Webby Awards, one of the most important awards on the theme, in the Websites and Mobile Sites-Events category.