In the late 1950s, Michelangelo Pistoletto began painting on mirror-finished, stainless steel panels, transferring figures directly from paper or photographic silkscreen onto their surfaces. He quickly gained notoriety for these works, as viewers enjoyed seeing themselves and their surroundings reflected on and interacting with the figures in his paintings. Although he was immediately associated with European Nouveau Réalisme, the proto-pop England Independents, and American Pop artists, by the mid-1960s Pistoletto had abandoned the mirrored paintings to which he did not return for over a decade. In the interim, he became associated with the international art movement Arte Povera, founded in Italy in the late 1960s. Arte Povera artists used “poor” materials such as cotton and newspapers, as well as plants and animals, in conjunction with technologically advanced objects and machines, as a means to address social, environmental, and technical issues. During this period, Pistoletto frequently worked with rags and clothing. Clothes unite Pistoletto’s early mirror paintings with Arte Povera, not only in its emphasis on four unidentifiable pieces of “poor” material hanging over a clothes line, but also by reinvigorating the link between abstraction and figuration that Pistoletto initiated in the mirror paintings.


  • Title: Clothes (Panni) from The Drape Suite
  • Creator: Michelangelo Pistoletto
  • Creator Birth Place: Biella, Italy
  • Date Created: 1981
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 47 1/4 × 39 1/2 × 1 inches (120 × 100.3 × 2.5 cm)
  • Type: Print
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Michelangelo Pistoletto
  • Medium: Screenprint on polished mirror stainless steel, edition 17/60
  • Art Form: Print
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Gift of Mrs. Stanley Levy. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Galleria Christian Stein, Milan, and Simon Lee Gallery, London / Hong Kong.

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