Italian artist Piero Manzoni (b. 1933 – d.1963) has made a big impact on contemporary artists such as Marina Abramović, Jonathan Monk and Gavin Turk. They here share their appreciation for the trailblazing re-inventor of modern art, who made work both “profound and simple.”
With works such as ‘Artist’s Breath’, where he inflated a balloon with his breath, Manzoni was an important part of how performance artist Marina Abramović (b. 1946) became aware of her artistic freedom: “I have a freedom as an artist to make art out of dust if I want.” In continuation of this, Belgian artist Wim Delvoye (b. 1965) considers Manzoni’s controversial work a legitimation rather than an inspiration, just as British artist Gavin Turk (b. 1967) feels that the Italian artist by his extreme and extraordinary work – such as canned faeces – managed to concentrate “what he sees as being his solution to the problem of art.” South Korean conceptual artist Kimsooja (b. 1957) follows up on this, arguing that Manzoni’s completely different perspective and approach brings us “to the centre to replace and reposition ourselves in the world.” In much the same way, American photographer Spencer Tunick (b.1967) speaks of how the sculpture ‘Socle du Monde’ (Base of the World) reflects and reminds us of how we live in a topsy-turvy world where things are neither constant nor perfect. Italian designer Nanda Vigo (b. 1936) also expresses her fascination of ‘Socle du Monde’ by which Manzoni “completely broke what everybody believed art was,” and British conceptual artist Jonathan Monk (b. 1969) adds that the Italian artist was significant because he managed to shift the focus from the work of art to the production of it – the performance.
Piero Manzoni (b. 1933 – d. 1963) was an Italian artist best known for his ironic approach to avant-garde art. Manzoni created controversial works of art in which he captured his breath and canned his own faeces, and his work is widely seen as a critique of the mass production and consumerism that was changing Italian society after World War II. Among his works are ‘Artist’s Breath’ (1960), ‘Socle du Monde’ (Base of the World) (1961) and ‘Artist’s Shit’ (1961) – a series of ninety 30-gram cans containing his excrements, meant to be sold at the price of its weight in gold. His work is represented in museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Tate Modern in London and HEART – Herning Museum of Modern Art in Herning, Denmark.
All interviews by Rasmus Quistgaard, Christian Lund and Kasper Bech Dyg. Recorded at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, LARMgalleri, Galleri Nicolai Wallner and HEART – Herning Museum of Modern Art in Denmark.
Cover photo: ‘Socle du Monde’ (1961) by Piero Manzoni, photo by Ole Bagger.
Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018
Supported by Nordea-fonden