Portfoliobox of the Month: Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Minus Objects

Art reflects who we are. In his lifetime, Michelangelo Pistoletto has taken huge risks with his work and has never been afraid to change. Spanning an artistic gamut of painting, sculpture, and performance art, Pistoletto has a tremendous creative repertoire to his name. Consequently, audiences and gallery-goers around the world have seen themselves in his work- quite literally. To honor Michelangelo Pistoletto and to commemorate his work, Luhring Augustine, New York released a custom clamshell portfolio of one of his most important works, Minus Objects.

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Michelangelo Pistoletto began his career over sixty years ago. From the outset, he was eager to experiment with materials and style. Early in his career, he was hailed as a champion of the Arte Povera movement, combining classical sculpture with everyday objects to blur the stratospheres of the hierarchy of art. But it was a series of paintings on mirrors (Quadri specchianti) that first gained Pistoletto notoriety. These mirror paintings would become a hallmark of the Italian master’s work, and appropriately, one such piece is also the focal point of this custom portfolio box.

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This clamshell portfolio is a distillation of the Michelangelo Pistoletto experience. A contrasting combination of materials and techniques itself, the Minus Objects portfolio is an appropriate encapsulation of the series. It was this anthology of disparate objects created between 1965 and 1966 that garnered Pistoletto his greatest acclaim. Each work is a distinct representation, completely unlike its siblings in the series. A cardboard rose, a photographic portrait, and a spherical iron sculpture comprise just some of the collection. The silhouette of a wooden sculpture representing a lunch counter is portrayed on the front of the portfolio.

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The box opens to reveal a mirrored surface with a modern twist – a cell phone painted on the surface, poised to snap a photo with one of Pistoletto’s works in frame. It’s a tongue in cheek indictment of modern gallery culture to be sure. The mirror painting dominates the interior space of the portfolio and comes as a delightful surprise to anyone lucky enough to handle the box.

Our biggest challenge, and ultimately our biggest triumph with this clamshell portfolio, was accommodating that mirror.
Revealing the mirror was simple enough; open the box, and there it is. But keeping it in place, properly protecting it, and minimizing the amount of handling was more difficult. So, a special platform was added to fit the mirror with the utmost precision. This platform was a feat of design developed by Portfoliobox. The mirror has a recessed hollow on the back of the piece, and so the platform was engineered to adhere exactly to those dimensions.

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This accomplishes two functions. First, this platform holds the mirror in place and restrains it from traveling inside the portfolio. Second, it minimizes handling. When the mirrors first arrived, we were provided with a pair of gloves as not to tarnish the flawless reflective surface. The gloves would have to be administered whenever touching or removing the mirror. But, the addition of the interior platform allows access to the sides and bottom of the mirror, eliminating the need to grab the piece from the top and risk smudging the surface.

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This deluxe clamshell portfolio resounds in regal blue Iris bookcloth. The Minus Objects design on the front panel was achieved through a blind deboss, while yellow matte pigment foil stamping adorns the spine. The interior cavity beneath the mirror holds a commemorative book celebrating Pistoletto’s Minus Objects series. A ribbon pull was added for ease of access to the collateral.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with Luhring Augustine many times, but this project was especially noteworthy. This portfolio is a gallery experience unto itself. A distinct work of art at the center, the box has all the trappings necessary to inform a Pistoletto experience in miniature. Distinct designs, a comprehensive book, and an unmistakable mirrored artwork come together to create an exceptional portfolio box.

Portfoliobox of the Month: The Epitome of a Fine Art Portfolio

Our last Portfoliobox of the Month explored how a portfolio can be a work of art. This time, we’re looking at how a portfolio can accentuate works of art. Ada, a collection of portraits by renowned artist Alex Katz, is a hypnotizing anthology of artwork consolidated in a striking fine art portfolio.

Musing about a Muse

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Lipped Clamshell design with pigment foil

At 91 years old, Alex Katz is one of the most prolific American artists working today. An immense volume of work behind him and a tremendous wealth of art still being generated, Katz shows no signs of slowing down. In years where most people have become sedentary, he’s swimming laps and running miles, attending galleries and giving interviews.

But at the center of his career, and indeed his life, is Ada. Represented in portraits at The Met, The Jewish Museum, and galleries the world over, Ada has proven to be as enticing to audiences as to the artist. In a handcrafted piece made by Portfoliobox for Lococo Fine Art Publisher, Ada is as captivating as ever.


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Who is Ada? For Alex Katz, she’s the one and only. His wife, his partner, his inspiration.

He’s been painting Ada for sixty years. His perennial muse is an impressive character in her own right; research biologist, Fulbright Scholar, theatre producer. According to Katz, museum patrons and gallery-goers often report seeing a resemblance of themselves in Ada, whose demure yet arresting features manifest with magnetism in the paintings which depict her. Thick eyebrows, pronounced lips, prominent nose, treated with reverence and celebration. Rarified beauty distilled into human terms, giving the impression that she’s someone you’ve met, someone you’ve seen on the street, someone you want to look at.

Ada has taken many different forms during her half-century stint as a fixture of American art. Katz has painted her in scenes, solo, in duplicate, in color, with a beaming grin, or stern and stoic. In this collection, Ada appears in a more expressionist style, rendered solely in black. Expressionist in the sense that the strokes of paint are sometimes more representative than realistic, but also expressionist the sense that the look on Ada’s face, her very expressions, are focal in this collection.

The Epitome of a Fine Art Portfolio

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Yellow Iris bookcloth makes this fine art portfolio shine

This Lipped Clamshell Portfolio is everything a fine art portfolio should be. The piece was made to contain a set of prints and a supplementary book, the subject of whom you have surmised by now. Ada appears on the front of the wood frame box in the same decoration that adorns the cover of the book contained within. Yellow Iris bookcloth covers the surface of this fine art portfolio, accented with lettering in white pigment foil. White Iris bookcloth was wrapped over the side panels, providing a compliment to the white cover decoration.

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Like the work of Alex Katz, this wood frame portfolio is deceptively simple. The crisply wrapped edges and precision foil stamping required focused craftsmanship from our talented team. And there’s more to this portfolio than meets the eye. An internal pocket contains a supplementary book which hides inconspicuously amid the wash of yellow bookcloth. A ribbon pull provides access to this concealed feature.

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Fine art portfolios are a specialty of ours and we’ve had the privilege to work alongside some incredible galleries and art publishers. The wood frame construction of the lipped clamshell is well suited to protect and preserve works of art on paper. A premium bookcloth like Iris provides a rich tactile experience when handling the box. If you are in need of a fine art portfolio, we at Portfoliobox encourage you to take stock of this handcrafted piece.

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with us today!


Portfoliobox of the Month: A Twist on the Professional Art Portfolio

A professional art portfolio where the portfolio is more than just a vessel, or is it?

Creativity is a fickle thing. Sometimes the act of making is irresistible- even fun. Often though, the creative process is frustrating and the cause of many an artist to exercise a little procrastination. For artist John Armleder, a missed deadline lead to the inspiration for a irony drenched professional fine art portfolio that is a work of art in and of itself.

 The Professional Art Portfolio Reimagined

Over lunch in New York, World House Gallery owner Donald Taglialatella asked John Armleder if he would compose some water colors for him. Taglialatella even supplied Armleder with paper to work with. Armleder agreed, but only “if the spirit moved him.” A few weeks later, the two met again. Armleder returned the paper, still blank, and the project unfinished.

That’s where the story of such doomed projects usually ends. But inspiration wasn’t absent, just late. Some time later, Armleder emailed Taglialatella with a novel idea. His lack of art was, in fact, art. Armleder conceived a vision for a presentation folio for World House Editions that was “unsigned, unnumbered, undated, untitled”- a vessel devoid of any contents. A sort of commentary on printed works, this was to be a professional fine art portfolio that contained no actual art. And would be advertised as such.

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Professional Art Portfolio: Lipped Clamshell design wrapped in Black Brillianta and decorated with silver foil stamping


The lipped clamshell design was wrapped in black Brillianta and accented with silver foil stamping. By all appearances, this is a quality professional art portfolio like any other. The title of the project, “(really) NOTHING”, along with the name of the artist and the publisher are the only visible decorations on the exterior of the box. One would expect the minimal exterior to conceal a rich, perhaps even boisterous collection of content within. No one would actually release a fine art portfolio with nothing inside.

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Professional Art Portfolio: All the nothing our lipped clamshell design could accommodate

There is absolutely nothing within this portfoliobox. It is a black, vacuous space of utter emptiness. This a superlative piece not because of the works within, but the lack thereof. Save for one detail. On the interior of the front panel, justification note in sheer white. And to further the motif of nothingness, the copy is inkless, giving the appearance of a totally blank sheet of paper at first glance.

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Professional Art Portfolio: You may have to squint to read this Justification Note from John Armleder

The white on white effect of this note embodies the nothingness that defines this project. The intent is visible, but only barely. If you don’t look closely and think, you might miss the point entirely. That effect, however, is the genius of this concept.

This project puts the emphasis solely on the professional art portfolio, not the contents. Although this is, of course, John Armleder’s work all the same, it does give Portfoliobox an opportunity to contribute to high art by virtue of our product alone. One can imagine the experience of opening this lipped clamshell and recognizing the irony of absent work. But this project isn’t nothing. Not really. The gag only works because the portfoliobox is in keeping with the quality of a professional art portfolio used by many renowned artists of the highest caliber.

Portfoliobox was honored to participate in the creation of this original work.

If you have a unique project requiring a fine art touch, contact us today and speak with Stuart about how Portfoliobox can help you.

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