From the black that characterized the art of “squalor” there was a sudden shift to white in this new series. Announced on the invitation to a solo exhibition held in Perugia in January 1989, White Year [Anno Bianco] was one of the grand “continents of time” in which the artist was developing his production. It consisted of ten stages, distanced in space and time, of Pistoletto’s activity over the course of 1989 and conceived “as a mirror painting ready to receive tomorrow’s images” or as “blank newspaper pages” open to outside events. It is in this sense that the large white sheets of plaster and marble and the empty niches shown in various places during the year should be understood.
The visual correspondence between the images of the two most significant events of that year made famous by the media — people celebrating on the Berlin Wall and the statue erected during the Tiananmen Square revolt in Beijing — and two of Pistoletto’s works — the performance Year One (1981) and the sculpture About Face [Il dietrofront] (1981) — was a motif that would be presented on several occasions, beginning with Pistoletto’s retrospective at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Rome in 1990.
For a reconstruction of the entire operation see the publication, Michelangelo Pistoletto – Anno Bianco, edited by Bruno Corà and published by AEIOU (Rome, 1990).