“Lines, Materials of His Time”
New York, 22nd Street
An exhibition devoted to Piero Manzoni, a seminal figure of postwar Italian Art and progenitor of Conceptualism. During a brief but influential career that ended upon his untimely death in 1963, Manzoni evolved from a self-taught abstract painter into an artistic disruptor. Curated by Rosalia Pasqualino di Marineo, director of the Piero Manzoni Foundation in Milan, the exhibitions ‘Piero Manzoni. Materials of His Time’ and ‘Piero Manzoni. Lines’ unfold over two floors and focus on Manzoni’s most significant bodies of work: his Achromes (paintings without color) and Linee (Lines) series.
On view in the second-floor gallery, ‘Materials of His Time’ features more than 70 of Manzoni’s radical Achromes and surveys the artist’s revolutionary approach to unconventional materials, such as sewn cloth, cotton balls, fiberglass, bread rolls, synthetic and natural fur, straw, cobalt chloride, polystyrene, stones, and more. ‘Materials of His Time’ also presents, for the first time in New York, the items on a wish list Manzoni outlined in a 1961 letter to his friend Henk Peeters: a room all in white fur, and another coated in fluorescent paint, totally immersing the visitor in white light.
The presentation of Manzoni’s work continues on the third floor with ‘Lines,’ an exhibition of over 35 works that constitute his most considered and serialized explorations. Developed in parallel with his production of Achromes, Manzoni began his Linee series in 1959. Ranging from short, simple bands traversing rectangular sheets of paper to increasingly long traces created with a roller on strips of paper, the artist produced a total of 90 Linee works of varying meters, which he then sealed in cylindrical containers. The series culminated in 1960 with ‘Linea lunga 7.200 metri’ (Line 7200 Meters Long), made in Herning, Denmark. In addition to Manzoni’s cylindrical wooden sculpture ‘Linea di lunghezza infinita’ (Line of Infinite Length) (1960), a purely conceptual work, Hauser & Wirth is pleased to feature ‘12 Linee,’ a reconstruction of the artist’s exhibition originally staged in 1959 for the opening of the illustrious Azimut gallery in Milan, as well as the short film ‘Le lunghe linee,’ presented for the first time with new audio and music. Despite the extraordinary importance of the series for the artist, this is the first time a major exhibition has been staged around the Linee.
‘Piero Manzoni. Lines’
In addition to the Achromes, the body of work that occupied most of Manzoni’s writings and discussions is his Linee series, which he initiated in the spring of 1959. The first iterations of Linee are characterized by slender, uninterrupted delineations on sheets of paper measuring approximately sixty by fifty centimeters, and were first presented in ‘Superfici achrome,’ an exhibition held at Bar La Parete in Milan. Ranging from short, simple lines traversing the width of rectangular sheets to increasingly long bands traced by a brush or roller on strips of paper, the artist produced a total of 90 Line works of various measurements, each rolled and sealed in closed black canisters with a manila label indicating the length of the line and the date of production. These distillations of expression function as a starting point without a conclusion and demonstrate Manzoni’s dedication to the idea of repetition and continuum — a concept that paralleled the formal investigations of some of his American counterparts, including Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, Barnett Newman, and Anne Truitt.
‘Piero Manzoni. Materials of His Time’
Manzoni initiated a paradigmatic shift in the status and function of the painting medium when he eliminated traditional materials from his practice in 1957 and began a series called Achromes. He coined this term to signify the absence of color and attributed it, as titled, to the white, or more aptly, a-chromatic works produced between 1957 and his death in 1963. Shedding light on Manzoni’s innovative approach to painting, this exhibition takes its title from a text written by the artist in 1960, in which he explains: ‘Painting and pictorial problems… are not part of the modern cultural cycle: they died long ago… a new language is a total transformation, nor can it have anything to do with the old language; an artist can use only the materials (thoughts and forms) of his time.’ Of the approximately 800 Achromes he created, more than 70 will be on view at Hauser & Wirth New York, evincing the breadth of Manzoni’s formal investigations, his retreat from the legacy of personal artistic expression, and his contribution to the foundation of Conceptualism.
on view through July 26, 2019