«Artist’s shit» – a work of art by Italian artist Piero Manzoni, so called representative of shocking art. He stroke through all previous works of modern art like jars of «artist’s breath» and bottles with «air from Paris» with one simple gesture: in 1961 he made 90 tin-cans with the inscription «100% natural artist’s shit» in Italian, English, French and German, which contained 30 grams of unknown substance, and sold them with the price similar to the price of gold of the same weight.


Current price is about 30,500 euros. In 2007 a copy from Rene Block’s Fluxus collection was sold for 124,000 euros at Sotheby’s auction. This action was dedicated to Yves Klein and all artists who made so called brand-art.

«Artist’s shit» is not only an ironic illustration of low barriers to entry the world of art (Manzoni argued that his project draws attention to the credulity of art buyers. «All these Milanese bourgeois pigs only like shit» – he said).

The main criteria of my choise of this artwork to mention was not an obvious relation of it to Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World) painting. It influenced not only Marcel Duchamp but also almost every artist (and especially concept artists) who wants to use the title of his work to provoke some new meaning sometimes very scandalous and controversial.

Tin-can evokes an instant association with Andy Warhol who made his famous Campbell’s supermarket shelf a year later. I can imagine Piero Manzoni’s laughing.

Polina Brzhezinskaya


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