• Post War and Contemporary Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 7834

    Post War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction

    11 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 13

    Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)


    Price Realised  


    Piero Manzoni (1933-1963)
    kaolin on canvas
    19¾ x 24in. (50.2 x 61cm.)
    Executed circa 1959

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    'Abstractions and references must be totally avoided. In our freedom of invention we must succeed in constructing a world that can be measured only in its own terms. 'We absolutely cannot consider the picture as a space on to which to project our mental scenography. It is the area of freedom in which we search for the discovery of our first images. 'Images which are as absolute as possible, which cannot be valued for what they record, explain and express, but only for that which they are: to be' ('For the Discovery of a Zone of Images', undated but presumably 1957, reproduced in Piero Manzoni: Paintings, reliefs & objects, exh.cat., London, 1974, pp.16-17).

    With its incredibly powerful physical presence and zen-like interjection of pleats which run across the centre of the composition pulsating out of the canvas, rich with kaolin, achrome is a particularly beautiful example of this series, which is of course legendary in the history of twentieth century art. The notion of the tabula rasa is central to Manzoni's Achrome, which was executed in 1960. The lack of drawing, of artistic contribution, removes any sense of narrowing autobiography. Manzoni has removed all the vestiges of representation in order to create something: 'The difficulty lies in freeing oneself from extraneous details and useless gestures; details and gestures that are polluting the customary art of our day' (Manzoni, Art is not a true creation, in Celant, 1998, p. 76).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Gian Enzo Sperone, Turin.
    Galerie Elke Dröscker, Hamburg (1978).
    Private Collection, Hamburg.
    Anon. sale, Christie's New York, 11 November 2003, lot 37.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this lot should be marked with a star symbol in the catalogue and is subject to temporary import tax.
    Please note that this work was executed circa 1959 and not as stated in the catalogue.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a Private American Collection


    G. Celant, Piero Manzoni Catalogo generale, Milan 1975, no. 152cg (illustrated, p. 161).
    F. Battino & D. Palazzoli, Piero Manzoni Catalogue raisonné, Milan 1991, no. 421 (illustrated, p. 293).
    G. Celant, Piero Manzoni Catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan 2004, no. 359 (illustrated, p. 447).


    Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Piero Manzoni, March-May 1991, no. 30 (illustrated in colour, p. 90). This exhibition later travelled to Herning, Herning Kunstmuseum, June-September 1991; Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones de la Fundación "la Caixa", October-December 1991 and Turin, Castello di Rivoli-Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, February-March 1992.