Piero Manzoni 1933-1963
Inscribed 'PIERO MANZONI 58'on stretcher
China-clay on canvas in squares, 39 1/2 x 39 1/2 (100.3 x 100.3)
Purchased from the Onnasch Galerie (Grant-in-Aid) 1974
Prov: With Galleria Notizie, Turin; with Galerie Mathias Fels, Paris; with Onnasch Galerie, Cologne
Exh: Piero Manzoni 1933-1963, Galerie Mathias Fels, Paris, December 1969-January 1970 (works not listed); Piero Manzoni 1933-1963, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, October-November 1973 (10); Kunsthalle, Tübingen, January-February 1974 (10); Piero Manzoni: Paintings, Reliefs and Objects, Tate Gallery, March-May 1974 (22)
Lit: Germano Celant, Piero Manzoni: Catalogo Generale (Milan 1975), p.116 repr.
Manzoni began to give his white paintings the title 'Achromes' in the autumn of 1957 to emphasise that he was concerned with 'rendering a surface completely white (integrally colourless and neutral) far beyond any pictorial phenomenon or any intervention extraneous to the value of the surface. A white that is not a polar landscape, not a material in evolution or a beautiful material, not a sensation or a symbol or anything else: just a white surface that is simply a white surface and nothing else (a colourless surface that is just a colourless surface). Better than that: a surface that simply is: to be (to be complete and become pure)' (P. Manzoni, 'Libera Dimensione' in Azimuth, No.2, 1960).
His first 'Achromes' were made with rough gesso which was scratched and marked, or with irregular rectangles of canvas impregnated with china-clay and glue, but this one comes from a slightly later series, begun in 1958, formed from regular squares of canvas. Some of his later 'Achromes' made in 1959 had seams made by machine stitching, while in 1960 he began to make a number in cotton wool and expanded polystyrene.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.478-9, reproduced p.478