Monday, June 27, 2016

Really Crappy Art

The art of Italian artist Piero Manzoni (1933 - 1963) was once criticized by his father as being "shit," so he filled 90 cans with 30 grams of his feces each and began selling them at the market price of gold, about $35 an ounce then. The artwork was titled, "Artist's Shit (Merde d' Artista). Eventually, all cans were sold. 

A few years ago, the Tate Gallery in London purchased one of the cans for 22,350 pounds from Southeby's. Needless to say, this acquisition evoked a lot of commentary! And, as you can see, the artist signed each individual work.  

But this raises some questions. What is his artistic message, if any? Did Manzoni have an intended use for these cans? Did he expect many sales of cans? Did he effectively thumb his nose at the art world?

Several years ago, a friend of his, Agostino Bonalumi, claimed that Manzoni did not can the his feces, but only plaster. This raised some sort of dilemma, or did it? Does the artistic concept of shit in a can require actual shit to meet it? After all this is conceptual art. 

The owner or gallery possessing the can has a problem. If the can is opened to determine the contents, this would damage the art work, and drastically reduce its value. On the other hand, wherein lies the art? Is it the physical work, or is it in the eccentric idea? If it's the latter, then the actual contents would be unimportant.

As a matter of fact, it might be sufficient to paste a titled 4" X 6" card on the wall and call it "art." We can get interesting ideas too. Therefore we can also be artists. "Artist" becomes more democratic and less of a gallery- or museum-labeled priesthood. Here are a few concepts that may or may not be turned into art.

"Barney on a Riding Lawnmower"

"Break Dancing by Democrats"

"Boredom from a Bad Movie"

Or, come up with your own concepts and declare it "art."


Blue Grumpster said...

22,350 pounds... no shit. I'm impressed and I would be more so if the cans turn out to be full of shit, like my cousin.

John Hill said...


Cloudia said...

"4" X 6" card on the wall and call it "art." That's a good one. Or Duchamp's "Fountain"

Another worthwhile and amusing romp, Angel!

Mike said...

I think this was a message to his father. What his father thinks is shit is actually art.

How about the people that do paintings by filling up their large intestine with paint, and then spray it all over a canvas on the floor? There has to be some residual feces mixed in with the paint. So colorful shit paintings?

Hell Hound said...

Conceptual art could be a cosmic joke played on everybody.

Big Sky Heidi said...

I think I get it; but is real shit more artistic than plaster shit?

Clarissa said...

This was a false, and not very good, try at being artistic.

Birgit said...

I would not consider this good shit. Once again, the art world show its superior stupidity but as long as they wear black with a white scarf and throw in the word " conceptual" they can get away with it.

Gorilla Bananas said...

They must find out whether it really contains poop. There must be some method that doesn't require opening the can, possibly involving X-rays or electromagnetic resonance. Until then, it is impossible to value.