Minsheng Lecture: Getting to know Pistoletto inside the Mirror and the Space


Minsheng Lecture



Su Dan

Guest: Su Dan
Date and Time: 14:30-16:30, Sunday, July 18, 2021
Location: Multimedia Hall (1F), Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum
Address: Xinyefang 3, Wenshui Road 210, Jing’an District, Shanghai

.For the public health, the event requires real-name registration.
.Please bring your ID and wait in line at the admission.
.Before your entrance, you should get your temperature measured and register your information.
.Please wear a face mask the whole time during your visit. If you are experiencing a fever, cough, or short of breath, please understand that admission will not be granted.
.Please arrive 15 minutes before the start of the event.

Breaking the Mirror—Action 4, 2017

The leading figure of the 20th century Arte Povera movement Michelangelo Pistoletto’s first solo exhibition The Formula of Life is currently exhibiting in Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum. This exhibition highlights part of the history of the Biellese artist through 19 works, including installations, mirror paintings and documents. The symbolic sign of the Third Paradise is also featured.

Whirpool – Diptych, 2017
201*141cm, 2 panels

Pistoletto’s self portraits series and his earliest mirror paintings were borm in the late 1950s, when he found out that the dark background in his self portraits reflect his own image. Standing in front of the painting, he realized that the painting represents both his self-portrait and the figures of whoever stands in front of it. Therefore, he came to realize that it is unnecessary to keep using painting as the medium to express his concepts. By 1973, he has been conducting his creative routine by silkscreening on the super stainless mirror, which marks the beginning of another level of his mirror painting.

Michelangelo Pistoletto said: “If we can only see an object from its outisde, then its inside only exists in our imagination. Then any form of test will change its nature.”

Metrocubo di Infinito and the mirror painting series

Pistoletto was introducing his work The Spin of Objects to Su Dan at Cittadelarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in 2018.

In Minus Object (1965-1966) series, Pistoletto realized his concept of transferring the unreality inside the mirror into the reality. Each object is different from the previous one, just like a random object appearing in the mirror in a random moment. Metrocubo di Infinito (1996) is a cube made of 6 mirrors that are reflecting inward. The number of image increases as more mirrors are set up, but after the last mirror was put on, the mirrored image becomes a cube, and all other visible images are gone. The object that is possibly existing in this work has been connected with the real world.

“Through these objects, I got rid of some things—not building them up, but getting rid of them—I don’t see them as increased objects, but subtracted objects, for the recognition experience brought by this work eventually left me.”

The mirror painting series shows how Pistoletto started to reflect on himself, and how he challenges the traditional “artist—viewers” relationship. In his mirror painting series, Pistoletto attempts to involve the public in the most tolerant way, to make people simultaneously feel the inside and outside of the mirrors. Viewers can therefore gain a complete aesthetic experience and transform themselves from viewers to participants.

Pistoletto and Su Dan taking photos in front of Venus of the Rags at Cittadelarte – Fondazione Pistoletto in 2011.

In the past 50 years, Pistoletto has been experimenting on new ways to present the mirror paintings. The series has taken forms in installation, landscape art, performamce, etc., extending his exploration on its concept. Mirrors become more than a simple two-dimensional work, but occupying through three, even four dimensions, bearing more information and meditation than ever. From his self-portraits to his mirror paintings, Pisotoletto’s focus has been broadened from himself to the greater world, which is elaborated in his “The Third Paradise” menifesto.

Professor Su Dan from Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University is the guest lecturer, who cooperated with Pistoletto before. He will introduce Michelangelo Pistoletto, the leading figure of Arte Povera, who has been continued his artictic and social practice for 60 years. Professor Su will introduce Pistoletto in the below perspectives:

  • Reflecting on the mirror paintings
  • Truth behind the mirror—art and science
  • People inside the mirror—individuals and historical time
  • Art as social driving force—Pistoletto in Cittadelarte
  • Creating “The Third Paradise”—Pistoletto’s social practice
About the guest lecturer

Su Dan

Su Dan, born in 1967, used to work as the Director of Department of Environmental Art Design and Vice Dean of Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University. Su Dan holds posts concurrently as Vice Director of Tsinghua University Art Museum, Professor of Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Vice Dean of Tsinghua University Institute for Cultural Economy, Director of Key Lab of Traditional Crafts and Materials Research, Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Su Dan also works as the Chairman of Interior Design Council in China Architectural Committee, Members of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Political Consultative Conference, Visiting professor of Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti di Milano and Domus Academy, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts,Shanghai University, Doctoral Supervisor of Faculty of Humanities and Arts of Macau University of Science and Technology. Su Dan professionally performs as famous designer, design educator, critic and art curator. He is mainly engaged in the research of contemporary design education transformation, industrial heritage protection and cultural creative industry development.

As a writer and critic, Professor Su Dan has published more than ten academic works in recent years, including Naocheng (noisy city), Page 1001: Su Dans Art and Design Verse (2018), The Lost Ways: The History of Chinese Environmental Art Development (2014), Design Eggs of Arts and Crafts (2012), Opinions and Suggestions (2010), etc.

As a curator and designer, Su was the chief curator of “Environmental Consciousness in Design”, the China exhibition of “The XXII Triennale di Milano exhibition,” and has served as the project leader of the design of China Pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015. He is also the curator and general coordinator of “Design Utopia 1880-1980: 100 Years of Design History / The Biagetti-Koenig Collection” (2021) and “Window 2020—Photo Archival Exhibition During Pandemic,” Intagible Cultural Heritage Exhibition of Tsinghua University & Sulwhasoo Intagible Cultural Heritage Foundation (2018-2020). In 2019 Su cooperated with Michelangelo Pistoletto and produced a video program “The Third Paradise: Converstions with Four Sides,” which was aired on Beijing Subway Media Platform and Youku.