* 1933 Soncino bei Mailand
† 1963 Mailand
Born at Soncino in 1933, Piero Manzoni began to paint in 1950 at the age of seventeen. In 1951 he enrolled at the Accademia di Brera in Milan to study law but switched to art and philosophy in 1954, at first in Rome and later in Milan but dropped out. By 1953 Manzoni was taking private lessons in painting. Between 1950 and 1954 Manzoni did conventional landscapes and portraits until 1954, when, inspired by Burri, Fontana and Fautrier, he began experimenting with oils, plaster of Paris and enamel. In 1957 Manzoni and Fontana joined 'Gruppo Nucleare', which endeavoured to combat academic art of all kinds. Impressed by Yves Klein's monochrome works, Piero Manzoni did his first Achromes, canvases without colour but primed with plaster of Paris and textured, in 1957 and continued to revert to them throughout his brief career. These relief pictures exerted a profound influence on the 'ZERO' group, with whom Manzoni showed work in 1959, followed by his first pneumatic sculpture. This was an era notable for the productive exchange of ideas between Manzoni and Mavignier, Paul Wember, Arthur Kopke and groups such as 'Enne' in Padua and 'MOTUS'. In 1961 Manzoni began signing living bodies, which he proceeded to certify as works of art. Already suffering from cirrhosis, Manzoni travelled to Germany, Yugoslavia, Belgium and the Netherlands until 1962, dying at his studio in the Via Fiori Chiari in Milan in 1963 shortly after returning to Italy from the Netherlands.
Piero Manzoni's work was shown at numerous important international exhibitions, including documenta 5 in Kassel (1968) and the 1972 Venice Biennale, and is owned by museums across the world.