• Post-War and Contemporary Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 7835

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

    12 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 181

    PIERO MANZONI (1933-1963)

    ACHROME

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    PIERO MANZONI (1933-1963)
    ACHROME
    KAOLIN ON SEWN FABRIC
    31 1/8 X 23½IN. (79 X 60CM.)
    EXECUTED IN 1959-60


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    PIERO MANZONIS BODY OF WORK STANDS AS ONE OF THE CORNERSTONES OF CONCEPTUAL ART AND ANTICIPATES A WIDE NUMBER OF MOVEMENTS INCLUDING ARTE POVERA AND MINIMALISM WHILST REMAINING A TELLING INFLUENCE ON A PLETHORA OF YOUNGER ARTISTS WORKING TODAY. OF ALL OF HIS SERIES OF WORKS IT IS HIS ACHROMES - COLOURLESS SURFACES EMPLOYING AN ARRAY OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS - THAT ARE HIS BEST-KNOWN AND MOST CELEBRATED WORKS.

    BETWEEN 1958 AND 1959 PIERO MANZONI CREATED A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT FORMS, ALL OF WHICH ADDED TO THE LEXICON OF HIS ACHROMES SERIES. AT TIMES HE EMPLOYED A PATCHWORK OF TESSELLATED FABRIC SQUARES, AT OTHER TIMES HE CAUSED THE CANVAS TO PLEAT, EITHER IN THE CENTRE OF THE CANVAS OR ACROSS THE ENTIRE SURFACE, BUT AT ALL TIMES HE WOULD SOAK OR COVER HIS CANVASES IN KAOLIN, LENDING THE FINISHED SURFACE BOTH A CLASSICAL GRANDEUR AND A GENTLE FRAGILITY AT THE SAME TIME.

    THE SUMMER OF 1959 SAW PIERO MANZONI DEVELOP THE VISUAL POSSIBILITIES OF HIS ACHROMES. HE HAD EXHIBITED WITH SOME MEMBERS OF THE ZERO GROUP IN JULY 1959 IN ROTTERDAM AND, DURING THAT MONTH, HE WAS INTRODUCED TO VARIOUS GERMAN MEMBERS OF THE ZERO GROUP IN DSSELDORF AND WIESDBADEN, NOTABLY HEINZ MACK AND OTTO PIENE. THEIR INFLUENCE ON MANZONI LED HIM TO PRESENT A LEANER, EVEN MORE ECONOMICAL TYPE OF ACHROME IN WHICH HE ABANDONED THE USE OF KAOLIN ALTOGETHER, CHOOSING TO LEAVE THE CANVAS BARE AND WHICH WERE SHOWN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALBISOLA IN AUGUST 1959.

    THESE 'STITCHED' CANVASES ESCHEWED ANY SENSE OF PAINTERLINESS OR GESTURE AND, INSTEAD, SEEMED DEVOTED PURELY TO THE INHERENT GRAPHIC QUALITIES OF THE PURE, UNADULTERATED SURFACE, WITH ONLY THE MEANS OF THEIR CONSTRUCTION VISIBLE. FOR MANZONI, THIS WAS A LOGICAL PROGRESSION TOWARDS THE MOST SIMPLIFIED YET ESSENTIAL FORM OF VISUAL COMMUNICATION: '...I AM QUITE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND THOSE PAINTERS WHO, WHILST DECLARING AN ACTIVE INTEREST IN MODERN PROBLEMS, STILL CONTINUE EVEN TODAY TO CONFRONT A PAINTING AS IF IT WAS A SURFACE TO BE FILLED WITH COLOUR.' (MANZONI QUOTED IN G. CELANT, EXH. CAT., LONDON, SERPENTINE GALLERY, 1998, P. 130). FOR MANZONI, THESE STITCHED CANVASES FREED THE SURFACE FROM ANY OBLIGATION TOWARDS BOTH IMAGE AND INDEX, AFFORDING INSTEAD THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE VIEWER TO DELIGHT IN THE UNLIMITED MEANING OF TOTAL SPACE, OF PURE AND ABSOLUTE LIGHT (IBID.).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    ROSEMARIE DELIL, GERMANY.
    HER SALE, CHRISTIE'S LONDON, 21 JUNE 2007, LOT 230.
    ACQUIRED AT THE ABOVE SALE BY THE PRESENT OWNER.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF A EUROPEAN COLLECTOR


    Literature

    G. CELANT, "PIERO MANZONI: UNICA DIMENSIONE è IL TEMPO" IN METRO, VENICE, MAY 1969, NO. 3, P. 96.
    G. CELANT, PIERO MANZONI. CATALOGO GENERALE, MILAN 1975, NO. 41 TCQ (ILLUSTRATED, P. 198).
    F. BATTINO AND L. PALAZZOLI, PIERO MANZONI. CATALOGUE RAISONNé, MILAN 1975, NO. 660 (ILLUSTRATED, P. 356).
    G. CELANT, PIERO MANZONI. CATALOGO GENERALE, VOL. II, MILAN 2004, NO. 641 (ILLUSTRATED, P. 491).