Piero Manzoni  

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Piero Manzoni (July 13 1933 - February 6, 1963) was an Italian artist best-known for his work Artist's Shit.


Manzoni was born in Soncino, province of Cremona.

In his paintings Manzoni experimented with various pigments and materials. In one case he used phosphorescent paint and cobalt chloride so the colours would change over time. However, he had some less ordinary ideas as well. They included sculptures made of white cotton wool, fiberglass, rabbit skin and fake bread rolls.

In 1958 he had “pneumatic sculptures”, 45 blow-up-membranes. The buyer could also have Manzoni's own breath inside the membrane. He also tried to create a mechanical animal as a moving sculpture, using solar energy as a power source. In 1960 he created a sphere that was held aloft on a jet of air.

In 1960 Manzoni marked a number of hard-boiled eggs as works of art by imprinting them with his thumbprint. He let the spectators eat the whole exhibition in 70 minutes. He also began to sell prints of his thumbprints. He also designated number of people, including Umberto Eco, as walking works of art.

In May 1961 Manzoni defecated into 90 small cans and had them sealed with the text Artist's Shit. In the following years they have spread to various art collections all over the world and netted large prizes. Many of them have also exploded, maybe because of corrosion and expanding gases.

The same year he signed naked people for exhibitions and even gave certificates of authenticity. He also designated a “magic base”; as long as someone was standing on the base they were a work of art.

Piero Manzoni died by myocardial infarction in his studio in Milan in 1963.

See also

Arte Povera

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