From 07 March 1992 to 03 May 1992
Curated by Germano Celant
The artistic activity of Piero Manzoni (Soncino, Cremona, Italy, 1933 – Milan, Italy, 1963) spans little more than five years, from 1957, when he began to gain recognition as an artist, to 1963, when he died in his studio. His work centres on the commodification of the art object and the socio-economic system that legitimises this process. Manzoni employed a variety of aesthetic and conceptual strategies that simulate artistic practices, lodging his criticisms from within the art system itself and using every possible medium to express himself, from the concrete materials of the Achromes pictures to his own body, including his bodily functions, his breath, and his fingerprints. These investigations resulted in series such as Fiato d’artista (Artist’s Breath), balloon “sculptures” blown up by Manzoni himself, and Merda d’artista (Artist’s Shit), tin cans filled with the artist’s own excrement and sold for their weight in the (going) price of gold – a reflection on the clash between an object’s aesthetic value and its market value. Manzoni also utilized the viewer’s body, for example in the Sculture viventi (Living Sculptures), which he created by signing his name on the bodies of friends and colleagues (who quite literally embodied the name of the artist), in exchange for a “certificate of authenticity” that gave them the status works of art. The artist thus demonstrates that anything or anybody can be transformed into art, including the Earth itself, which is supported by the Socle du Monde (Base of the World).