Minus Objects
In late 1965 and January 1966 Pistoletto made and showed the Minus Objects in his studio, a former printing establishment, in Via Reymond in Turin, where he also lived at the time. These works grew out of a process linked to spontaneity and contingency. Each differed from the other. Displayed together, they gave the impression of a group show, breaking with the dogma by which every work of an artist must be stylistically recognizable, as though it were a standardized trademark. Critics greeted the Minus Objects coldly—so much so that they froze the market value of the earlier mirror paintings, which had been highly successful in Europe and in the USA. Even with Sonnabend and Castelli, with whom Pistoletto was working, these works became the subject of incomprehension that eventually led the dealers to break their contractual relationship with the artist.

“At the end of 1964 Leo Castelli told me, hurry up and make some more paintings because the others have all been sold or placed with museums and I want to give you a show right away. So I went to work like a madman, I took off for New York, I remember that I had Solomon, who had curated the American pavilion at the 1964 Venice Biennale, when Rauschenberg had won, on one side in the taxi and Leo Castelli on the other. Castelli said, ‘Listen, you have to come to the United States or there’s nothing more I can do for you. You’re doing very well, but either you join our family or it won’t be possible to go on.’ After that I didn’t go back to the United States for fifteen years. 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. I chose to be alone because I was convinced that the work I had developed had grown up on a cultural soil that had not been laid to waste, but constituted an important legacy” (Michelangelo Pistoletto, interview with Germano Celant, cit., 31).

“I feel that in my recent works I have entered the mirror and actively penetrated that dimension of time which was merely represented in the mirror paintings. These recent works bear witness to the need to live and act in accordance with this dimension, i.e. in the light of the unrepeatable quality of each instant of time, each place, and thus of each ‘present’ action…. My works are not constructions or fabrications of new ideas, any more than they are objects that represent me, intended to be imposed and to impose me on ohters. Rather, they are objects through whose agency I free myself from something—not constructions, then, but liberations. I do not consider them more but less, not pluses but minuses, in that they bring with them a sense of a perceptual experience that has been definitively manifested once and for all” (Michelangelo Pistoletto, The Minus Objects, cit.).

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Minus Objects
Minus Objects
Minus Objects
Lunch Painting
Burnt Rose
Cement Columns
Mercury Lamp
Green Pyramid
Decorative Semispheres
Twisted Canvases
Piece of Furniture

Luminous Fountain
I Love You
Structure for Talking
Standing Up
Display Case
Pear Body
House on Human Scale
Sphere Under the Bed
Ligneous Sculpture
Jasper Johns' Portrait
Newspaper Sphere
Large Newspaper Sphere
A Cubic Meter of Infinity

The Ears of Jasper Johhs
Display Case Mirror
Pear Body Mirror
Well Mirror
Well Cardboard and Mirror
Five Wells
Black Well
World Globe
Well Cradle
The Earth and the Moon