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Piero Manzoni (July 13, 1933- Feb. 6, 1963); Italian artist best known for his ironic approach to avant-garde art. Often compared to the work of Yves Klein, his own work anticipated, and directly influenced, the work of a generation of younger Italian artists brought together by the critic Germano Celant in the first Arte Povera exhibition held in Genoa, 1967. Manzoni is most famous for a series of artworks that call into question the nature of the art object, directly prefiguring Conceptual Art. His work eschews normal artist's materials, instead using everything from rabbit fur to human excrement in order to "tap mythological sources and to realize authentic and universal values".
Born in Soncino, province of Cremona. His full name was Count Meroni Manzoni di Chiosca e Poggiolo.
Self-taught as an artist, Manzoni first exhibited at the Soncino's Castle in Soncino in August 1956, at the age of 23. His early work was broadly gestural, and showed the influence of Milanese proponents of Nuclear Art, such as Enrico Baj. His later works, from approximately 1957 until his death in 1963, questioned and satirized the status of the art object as it had been conceived throughout modernism. Influences include earlier (though still active) artists like Marcel Duchamp and contemporaneous practitioners Ben Vautier and Yves Klein.
Manzoni's work changed irrevocably after visiting Yves Klein's exhibition 'Epoca Blu' at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan, January 1957.
....In May 1961 Manzoni created 90 small cans, sealed with the text: Artist's Shit (Merda d'Artista). Each 30-gram can was priced by weight based on the current value of gold (around $1.12 a gram in 1960). The contents of the cans remain a much-disputed enigma, since opening them would destroy the value of the artwork.
....Piero Manzoni died of myocardial infarction in his studio in Milan on February 6, 1963. His contemporary Ben Vautier signed Manzoni's death certificate, declaring it a work of art. (Wikipedia)