Where and when
The second exhibition of the Solo cycle is dedicated to Piero Manzoni (Soncino, 13 July 1933 – Milan, 6 February 1963). The cycle is conceived by the artistic director of the Museo Novecento Sergio Risaliti, and imagined to offer from time to time a short portrait of some great masters of the twentieth century.
Monday – Sunday
By alternating exhibitions that draw from civic collections with others organized to host personalities not present in the collection, the project responds to the dual need to build new narratives around the artists kept in the museum and to integrate the exhibition path by filling the gaps that characterize the museum’s collection.
After a first focus on Emilio Vedova (artist present in the Alberto Della Ragione collection), now it is the turn of Piero Manzoni (from 18 September to 13 December 2018), an artist who is not part of the patrimony of the Florentine civic collections. The exhibition, curated by Gaspare Luigi Marcone is organized in collaboration with the Piero Manzoni Foundation in Milan.
“Between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, during the so-called economic miracle Manzoni performed his experimental miracles – said the curator Gaspare Luigi Marcone – An ‘unclassifiable’ artist who continually offers critical stimuli and research hypotheses. A research marked by dialectical polarities: concept / object, material / immaterial, internal / external, irony / rigor, magic / science, finite / infinite, all / nothing. From Lines to ‘corporal’ works such as Air bodies, Sculpture Eggs and Artist’s Shit, Manzoni has redefined the idea of ’making art’; its path is marked by these ‘concepts-objects’, ‘boxed’ works, mysterious and ironic but of absolute depth; they are not just ‘simple provocations’, the artist has always worked in a more absolute and all-encompassing way. Together with constant theoretical activity, its operations paved the way for many experiments in the following years at a national and international level“.
Parallel to the Achromes, created by Manzoni from 1957 until the end of his career, the artist has been conceiving works since 1959 that escape any traditional category (pictorial or sculptural). In the spring of 1959 Manzoni created the first Lines; initially a single horizontal line of dark ink is drawn on a vertical sheet of paper to be set up on the wall. From the summer of the same year, however, the artist traces his lines on rolls of paper of varying lengths then enclosed in cylinders of various kinds where a label shows length, date and signature. The longest line is the 7,200-meter Line built in about three hours on 4 July 1960 at Herning in Denmark. The most radically “conceptual” line is instead the Line of infinite length (made in several copies in 1960): a simple wooden cylinder where only the label is “in-form” of the “in-finite”.
At the end of 1959 the “physiological”, or precisely “corporal” investigation takes on more and more “body” with the new series of 45 Air bodies: in a wooden box there are an instruction sheet, a white balloon to inflate with a tube and a tripod to place the “inflated sculpture”. After this series, the artist also created Artist’s Fiato (various examples from 1960) where the inflated balloon is simply affixed to a quadrangular wooden base. Since 1960 Manzoni’s experiments have become more and more radical: the last exhibition at the Azimut Gallery (self-managed space founded by Manzoni with Enrico Castellani in December 1959) is the “performative act” Consumption of dynamic art by the public Devouring the art that has taken place July 21, 1960.
The artist – almost in the guise of a priest – offers the public hard-boiled eggs to eat with his fingerprint, concretizing an act of “communion” between author, work and audience. At the same time there is the production of Sculpture Eggs, hard-boiled eggs complete with shell and fingerprint preserved in small signed and numbered wooden boxes. The bodily-biological-physiological cycle culminated the following year, in May 1961, when the artist produced the famous 90 boxes of Artist’s Shit to be sold at the current price of gold per gram. In the same year Manzoni realizes the Magic Bases, in several versions, with which any person or object can become a work of art up to the extreme totalizing radicality of the Socle su monde, the base of the world, with which the whole Earth is transformed. into a work of art.
Manzoni’s demiurgic acts, which pave the way for future conceptual and performative research, are also concretized in the “cycle” of living sculptures: from January 1961 the artist begins to sign people as works of art by issuing a relative “certificate of authenticity”. The idea of ”certification” is further developed, on a different level, with the photolithographs of the Assessment Tables published in 1962 by Vanni Scheiwiller with a preface by Vincenzo Agnetti.
In the exhibition itinerary – which offers an overview of the main stages of Manzoni’s research – there will also be an appendix dedicated to the “Monochrome” exhibition, a collective exhibition held at the Galleria Il Fiore in Florence in January 1963, which is most likely the last Italian exhibition in which Manzoni participates before his untimely death in Milan from a heart attack on February 6 of that same year.
1933, Soncino – 1963, Milan
Ideation and Artistic Direction
Gaspare Luigi Marcone
Organization and Coordination
Elisa Di Lupo
Comune di Firenze
Tabloid Soc Coop
FRUSH design studio
SMV – Studio Moretti Visani
In collaboration with
Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milano