Undated: 'Merda d'artista'

Italian artist Piero Manzoni creates 90 tin cans, all (presumably) containing his own feces. The cans are labeled in Italian, English, French and German:

"Artist's Shit / Contents: 30 gr net / Freshly preserved / Produced and Tinned / In May 1961."

He prices each can for what 30 grams of gold would cost at the time of purchase. The works were first exhibited in August; gold was selling for about $35.25 an ounce, meaning a single can intially sold for about $37.

From an essay on "Commodity Self" by Jennifer Way in the 2010 book "Encyclopedia of Identity, Volume 1," edited by Ronald L. Jackson II:

Interestingly, modern Western societies abhor overtly valuing individuals as commodities and seeming to directly exchange human life for money. Many find putting a price on a person objectionable if not also ludicrous. Nevertheless, in The Preservation of Self in Everyday Life, sociologist Erving Goffman observed that the middle classes made sense of themselves in terms of consumer culture, for example, as a finished product, polished and packaged for the social market. In 1961, something along the lines of a packaged self issued from the art world. ... Institutions from the art world valued the series for its contradictions. On one hand, the series seemed to avoid commodification because like many works of art, it insisted on qualities such as uniqueness and person expression, which was typical of avant-garde art. On the other hand, their standardized appearance rendered the cans similar to other consumer goods, and they were like some advertisements that avoid revealing what their rhetoric promotes. Additionally, associating waste with art raised important questions about value, the body, and the self. Do we value anything an artist generates ... ?

* Description from official website: @
* Description from Tate Collection: @
* "Excremental Value" (Tate Etc. magazine, 2007): @
* "Not exactly what it says on the tin" (The Guardian newspaper, 2007): @
* "Piero Manzoni: An Exemplary Life" (Art in America magazine, May/June, 1973): @
* "Poop Culture: How America Is Shaped By Its Grossest National Product" (book by Dave Praeger): @

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog archive


Follow: @