MICHELANGELO PISTOLETTO AT BLENHEIM PALACE 15 September – 31 December 2016 Blenheim Art Foundation is delighted to present Michelangelo Pistoletto at Blenheim Palace, a solo exhibition running
15 September – 31 December 2016
The exhibition will explore the diverse range of his fifty-year practice, from painting and sculpture to large-scale installation, as well as showcasing new works made specifically for Blenheim Palace and integrated into the fabric of the palace’s eighteenth-century interiors and surrounding grounds. Having been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the Louvre, Paris, and Serpentine Gallery, London, Pistoletto’s project at Blenheim Palace will be the artist’s most comprehensive UK show to date.
Among the canonical works featured will be the artist’s ongoing series of Mirror Paintings, photo-silkscreened images on polished steel which project the viewer’s reflection into the picture plane, encouraging visitor interaction. Sculpture will also be an important aspect of the exhibition, placed both within the building and in the gardens. Pistoletto’s works from the Arte Povera period – literally meaning ‘poor art’, the vivid 1960s art movement characterised by its use of found and unconventional materials – expand the material language of sculpture, and thus question what constitutes “high art”. The materials he uses are diverse and eclectic; hard and soft; plain and coloured; precious and common. One of his best known works, Venus of the Rags – which combines a high art figure of Western classical culture with a pile of discarded cloth – embodies these contrasts between ‘high’ and ‘low’ which Pistoletto’s show at Blenheim Palace will celebrate.
Blenheim Palace will also host new works as well as continue Pistoletto’s ongoing Third Paradise project, conceived in 2003, in which the artist envisions a third ‘realm’ which reconciles the natural world with the artificial world, proposing a society which can live in harmony with nature. Blenheim Palace, in all its Arcadian anachronism, will become the perfect seat for these meetings of past and present, rich and poor, grandeur and simplicity, artifice and nature.
This is the third exhibition of contemporary art hosted at the historic palace, following the success of Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace in 2014 and Lawrence Weiner: Within a Realm of Distance in 2015. With this upcoming show, the Foundation continues to introduce world-class contemporary artists to new audiences within one of England’s most treasured landmarks.
Michael Frahm, Director of Blenheim Art Foundation, said: "We are delighted to present the first UK retrospective of one of the most revered visual artists working today, tracing back to the early self-portraits which launched his career, and leading all the way up to the new work which will be created for this show. Pistoletto’s extensive and powerful career has been a major influence on contemporary art and modern thought. He is a counter-cultural figure who questions society and explores philosophy through a body of work which is witty, poetic and always unexpected."
Michelangelo Pistoletto said: "I am very pleased to be presenting a comprehensive show of my work within the unique setting that is Blenheim Palace, a place brimming with history, tradition, and craft. I look forward to seeing my art in an entirely new context, expanding its meaning and visitors’ experience of it. I hope the show will inspire and delight viewers of all ages."
Blenheim Art Foundation launched on 1 October 2014 with the aim of establishing a new programme of contemporary art at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience contemporary art in the historic setting of the palace and its celebrated grounds, the not-for-profit foundation aims to give the greatest number of people access to the most innovative contemporary artists working today
Blenheim Palace is the home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. This masterpiece of 18th-century Baroque architecture boasts over 300 years of history and is a World Heritage Site, surrounded by more than 2000 acres of ‘Capability Brown’ landscaped Parkland and Formal Gardens. Not only an iconic part of history, Blenheim Palace is also a living and changing experience with a wealth of events, themed tours and exhibitions throughout the year.