Part of the problem with making and seeing art today is that it feels like everything has been done. Making work out of everyday objects or junk on the street? Check. Defecating publicly or cutting oneself during a performance? Check. Nudity? Check. It’s not limited to art, either; there’s a culture-wide crisis regarding the lack of the new and (perhaps as compensation) our obsession with digging up the past.
Yet every once in a while, a show comes along that offers a reminder of what it must have been like to see something new — old artwork that still brims with the energy and promise of revelation. Luhring Augustine’s exhibition of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s The Minus Objects is one those shows.
Pistoletto made The Minus Objects in 1965–66, reacting at the time to pressure from his dealers to produce more of his famous, red-hot Mirror Paintings series (the pieces for which he’s still best known). “This is just to say how I returned to Italy to make the Minus Objects and how I reacted to an idea of the market that rained power on a cultural and practical control that forced you to feel you were part of a clan or alone,” the artist once said. Pistoletto wanted to be alone, and The Minus Objects were a big group of “fuck you.”
It worked. The artist showed the uncanny objects in his studio (see archival photos on his website), people didn’t know what the hell to make of them, and, according to Pistoletto, the market for his Mirror Paintings froze. A year later, the Arte Povera movement, which “attempted to break down the ‘dichotomy between art and life’” was officially born. The fact that 28 pieces comprising The Minus Objects are now being shown at the first blue-chip gallery in Bushwick is … well, a different story. But even there, generously scattered between the polished white walls, they retain much of their magic.
Read full article at hyperallergic.com