The creator of the work that lent the Socle du Monde Biennale its name, Italian conceptual artist Piero Manzoni (1933–63) left a strong imprint on not only the Arte Povera movement, but on conceptual art, art criticism, and modern art in general. A pioneering conceptual artist, Manzoni created works that spanned a wealth of materials and forms. Today, HEART Museum of Contemporary Art owns of the world’s largest Piero Manzoni collection.
From idea to concept to art
Entering the art world at the precocious age of seventeen, Manzoni lived a hectic life filled with art and wild ideas. His fascinations included the blurring of meaning, content, associations and expectations. His Achromes reflect this: with their emptiness, their emphasis on the material rather than on its value or the thoughts behind them, they erase the ideas of meaning and content generally associated with art. Manzoni asked questions about expectations and ideas – what is art and where is the limit? Can you put faeces in a can, sell it at the same price point as gold and call it art? If you draw a 7,200-metre line and roll it up, can you declare it to be art? The answers were not relevant; the important part was that the idea existed and was executed. The concept is a work of art in itself.
Manzoni and Herning
Manzoni created some of his most remarkable works in Herning in 1960 and 1961. Like several other modern artists, Aage Damgaard invited him to come to Herning and create art at Damgaard’s shirt factory, Anglifabrikken. With financial support from Damgaard and no restrictions, Manzoni was able to produce some of his most prominent conceptual works. Linea Lunga 7200 metre was created at the offices of the local newspaper, and Herning was also the site of the creation of the iconic Socle du Monde, Hommage á Galilei. Lending its name to the biennial, the work turns everything upside down, transforming the whole world into a single work of art.