July 2, 2002
7:37 AM   Subscribe

Italian concept artist Piero Manzoni created art, controversy, and statements on the gullible nature of the art-buying public by selling his thumbprints on hard boiled eggs, his breath in a balloon, and his own excrement in ninety little tins, one of which has been sold recently at Southebys and purchased by the Tate Gallery for the sum of $61,000.00. Manzoni stated that he hoped the tins would all explode in time, and at least half of the cans have already obliged him. Are we as gullible as he thought, or is art truly in the eye of the beholder, or both? partially via arts & letters daily
posted by iconomy (20 comments total)
Double, although in your defense it was buried deep in the post.
posted by starvingartist at 7:43 AM on July 2, 2002

Jesus Christ, it's double post day
posted by matteo at 7:44 AM on July 2, 2002

What a waste of money. Why are these people wasting my oxygen!?
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:47 AM on July 2, 2002

If I like it, it's art. If I don't like it, it's not art. Why can't you people seem to grasp this?
posted by ColdChef at 7:51 AM on July 2, 2002

Both? Aren't Manzoni's own opinions about modern art revealed by the fact that he was hoping to set off shit-bombs in modern art museums? He even signed people, making them art. This seems extremely ironic, like Manzoni was going out of his way to point out how silly everything has gotten.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:53 AM on July 2, 2002

Heh, Coldchef. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

I don't know much about art but I do know what I like, and I like hard-boiled eggs, dag nabbit.

Sorry about the double post. It's actually the first time (naturally!) that I just plain forgot to do a search.
posted by iconomy at 8:02 AM on July 2, 2002

You think to yourself, "The people around me are all gullible fools. They will buy anything labeled as 'Art' even though they don't understand it. I bet that people would buy shit if it was signed by somebody who was an 'Artist.'" You see Piero Manzoni selling his own shit as 'Art' and people buying it. You think to yourself, "Wow, here's a guy who gets it." You buy one.

That is art.
posted by hob at 8:14 AM on July 2, 2002

Well, of course it's art intended as an ironic commentary on the state of modern art. The purchasers of the art are, obviously, fully aware of the artist's ironic intentions, and are purchasing the shit because the ironic commentary is itself artistic. Thus, we have cans of shit intended to be an ironic commentary on modern art that, ironically, are considered modern art based on that commentary. It all makes perfect sense.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:16 AM on July 2, 2002

I remember reading in Harper's some years ago that an artist proposed doing a Manzoni tribute project with art collectors. He proposed sending sanitary collection devices and cans to various art collectors, who would then send their excrement to him by return mail. The kicker was that he offered to sell part of the "art" back to the collector at a discount for the contribution. Apparently, some collectors took him up on it and purchased their own excrement.
posted by quercus at 8:39 AM on July 2, 2002

This idea-as-art sort of art bores me. If you need to be told the provenance of the piece before you'll enjoy it, the art is in the telling, not in the piece. It is, after all, much more interesting to read about a tin full o' crap posing as art (without seeing such a can or even being sure that one exists) than it is to see such a can in person without knowing what's in it. So, Piero, write a funny book -- you can call it a manifesto if it makes you feel better -- and shitcan the physical pieces. If you just pretend that you did it, you'll save a lot on canning costs.
posted by pracowity at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2002

This reminds me of a funny story about British artist Tracey Emin.

Emin loses her cat, so she made some posters asking for help, and she started posting them around her neighbourhood. Collectors started taking the posters down thinking they were 'art' despite her protests.

It surprised me that art could be someting that the artist has denied was art.
posted by bobo123 at 10:03 AM on July 2, 2002

I suppose this loops back into the question of whether something is art just because it's worth money even though has no inherent value, or whether there is some other distinguishing feature of art?
posted by hob at 10:37 AM on July 2, 2002

Hey, anybody else want to take over a canning factory for a night and make moneyloads of shit?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:07 AM on July 2, 2002

It's too late late, Miguel, but ask me earlier tomorrow.
posted by pracowity at 11:10 AM on July 2, 2002

By the way, I like this post, iconomy. I just realized that I might sound like I'm scorning the post, but it's the wouldn't-it-be-cool-if... art that I'm knocking. I love art posts.
posted by pracowity at 11:12 AM on July 2, 2002

I remember hearing about the canned-shit dude on 60 Minutes or something a while back. As far as I'm concerned Manzoni does do a great job of making the point that the value of things is often determined by packaging rather than intrinsic qualities and that literally anything can be commoditized.

I actually intend to follow in his footsteps. But while Manzoni canned his poop and in elegant European stylecalled it Merde d'artista, I intend to package and sell my nasal mucus under the snappily American name of Blogsnot.

Get it while it's hot.
posted by jonmc at 11:46 AM on July 2, 2002

jon, you make an excellent point, and one which could apply to any industry, (and people themselves) and not just art. It's all about the packaging, unfortunately.
posted by iconomy at 12:34 PM on July 2, 2002

At what point does this post cease to be a post and become art? Who gets to sell it?
posted by insomnyuk at 12:41 PM on July 2, 2002

insomnyuk, I will take your post and print it up on my inkjet. Then I will place it in a can with a barbie doll wearing a tin foil dress and a fortune cookie hat. You can then buy it back from me from the charity auction I will hold on ebay. Then you will know your post has evolved from post, to art.
posted by Salmonberry at 5:57 PM on July 2, 2002

Yes, but will it be "good" art - an original take?

Seriously, I dont know if this post qualifies as Art but it was certainly moving.
posted by vacapinta at 6:17 PM on July 2, 2002

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