Piero Manzoni

Serpentine Galleries

It’s hard to believe that, juvenilia aside, Piero Manzoni’s career was so brief. It’s always the wide-eyed, chubby face of a precocious, overgrown, mischievous kid that appears to us in photographs. But Manzoni covered more territory—not without false steps—in six years than most do in sixty, and artists are still sorting out the implications of his work. In his catalogue essay to the Serpentine show, which includes 186 works by the Italian artist, art historian Jon Thompson only begins to survey the sweep of his influence.

Manzoni never wanted to address any but the most fundamental questions of art—in the first instance, its material condition, and thereafter the object’s function as a locus of exchange between artist and public, an exchange whose objective, economic appearance is as important as its subjective essence. For him, art was an escape from the bog of selfhood, with its “

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