Michelangelo Pistoletto at Blenheim Palace, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP, until 31st December 2016.
The setting for this great exhibition is the wonderful Blenheim Palace the family home of the Dukes of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It can come as no surprise that this masterpiece of English Baroque architecture set in over two thousand acres of ‘Capability’ Brown-designed gardens and parkland is a World Heritage Site.
This solo exhibition celebrating Pistoletto’s fifty-year career is presented by the Blenheim Art Foundation. Site-specific installations, sculpture and paintings can be found both within the palace and in the surrounding spaces.
The artist’s work has a playful element to it and includes the Venus of the Rags in the Chapel which has a central classical figure leaning against waste textile fabrics and is a fine example of his Arte Povera works. Much of his work has a philosophical message reflecting his own beliefs and hopes for unity and collaboration.
Many works, including his Mica Paintings – which look as if they were part of the Palace’s own picture collection – are found in the various State Rooms and perhaps culminate in the Long Library where over thirty of his well-known Mirror Paintings are encountered. The polished steel surfaces with their photo-silkscreened images also reflect the viewer and makes them part of the piece. Among pieces outside is a new work Mirage, a partially submerged gold-painted car, whose colour reflects the golden balls on the Palace’s roof.
I think that this exhibition is a ‘perfect marriage’ with its setting. It engages and delights and is a thought-provoking experience which will long live with you in a good way.
I shall leave it to the Blenheim Art Foundation’s Director Michael Frahm to sum up “With over fifty individual works exhibited at Blenheim Palace, we are extremely honoured to present the first major survey show of Michelangelo Pistoletto in Britain. With consideration to the social and political challenges the world faces today, Michelangelo’s practice continues to feel much needed. We are proud to support his beliefs and vision, and celebrate his extraordinary body of work. This exhibition portrays an artist who, since the 1960s, has continually pushed boundaries, challenged the status quo, and produced work which has enchanted and surprised audiences around the world.”