Catalogue entry

Piero Manzoni 1933-1963

T01875 Line 18.82m., September 1959

The tube has a printed label stuck round it, with the inscription 'CONTIENT UNE LIGNE LONGUE MT 18,82 | EXECUTEE PAR PIERO MANZONI LE 9/59 | IT CONTAINS A LINE 18/82 METRES LONG | MADE BY PIERO MANZONI THE 9/59' (the figures have been written in in ink)
Ink on paper in cylindrical cardboard container, 8 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 (22.5 x 5.7 x 5.7)
Purchased from Contessa Valeria Manzoni (Grant-in-Aid) 1974
Prov: Contessa Valeria Manzoni (the artist's mother), Milan
Exh: Piero Manzoni 1933-1963, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, September-November 1969 (30); Städtisches Museum, Mönchengladbach, November 1969-January 1970 (30); Kunstverein, Hanover, January-February 1970 (26); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, March-April 1970 (32); Piero Manzoni 1933-1963, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, October-November 1973 (23); Kunsthalle, Tübingen, January-February 1974 (23); Piero Manzoni: Paintings, Reliefs and Objects, Tate Gallery, March-May 1974 (44)
Lit: Germano Celant, Piero Manzoni: Catalogo Generale (Milan 1975), pp.38-40, 47-8, 58, 182-7 (not listed in the catalogue)

Manzoni's first 'Lines' made in April 1959 marked the beginning of his experiments with highly cerebral works which led away from painting and which entitle him to be regarded as a precursor of Conceptual art. Inscribed in ink on strips of paper and then rolled up, lines of different lengths were inserted into cardboard tubes and sealed, and the length of each was recorded on a label on the container. (Each roll of paper was apparently also signed on the back and inscribed with the date and length). At least 50 'Lines' of this type were made between April and December 1959, varying in length from 0.78 metres to 33.63 metres.

Then his longest 'Line' measuring 7,200 metres was made on a newspaper printing press at Herning in Denmark on 4 July 1960 and was enclosed in a large cylindrical container made of lead-iron. It was buried in the ground so that it might eventually be discovered one day by chance, but in fact has since been dug up. Finally he made two 'Lines' 1,140 and 1,000 metres on 24 July 1961 which have been put into polished steel containers, with engraved inscriptions.

Though several of these lines have been exhibited unrolled, the general intention was that the containers should remain unopened.

Published in:
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.479-80, reproduced p.479