My works are not constructions or fabrications of new ideas, any more than they are objects which represent me, intended to be imposed and to impose me on others. Rather, they are objects through whose agency I free myself from something—not constructions, then, but liberations.

—Michelangelo Pistoletto

In Viceversa, various narrative and historical threads converge with a situation that initiates a profound phenomenological experience. The easel and frame return the viewer to the traditional materials and history of painting, but they also resonate with Michelangelo Pistoletto’s personal relationship to the medium. The first iteration of the work comprised a frame sourced from the Turin studio of his father—a painter and restorer—who began teaching Pistoletto his trade when the artist was fourteen years old. Indeed, Viceversa may be regarded as a meditation on his relations with his father—and by extension on the connections and discontinuities between generations. In conversation with Germano Celant, Pistoletto declared: “I am directly linked by an unbreakable chain to the Byzantines as well as to my father; but there is a constant contradiction, that of continual and fundamental change and recreation in the dimension of time.” If the recto and verso of Viceversa symbolize the future and history, we are reminded of the vast unknowability of both. But to confront this, Pistoletto suggests, is to actively participate in the construction of lived reality.

Viceversa is currently on view at Lévy Gorvy New York as part of the exhibition Michelangelo Pistoletto.


Mirror, gilded wood frame, and wood easel
98 7/16 x 35 5/8 x 19 11/16 inches (250 x 90.5 x 50 cm)

Return to viewing room