Oil and tar on canvas
10.05.07 | 24.09.07
Senza titolo [Untitled]
Private collection, Italy
After the first works, consisting of traditional landscapes and portraits painted in oils, in late 1955 Manzoni’s painting veered sharply towards Art Informel, the international movement born out of the deep moral crisis produced by the war and tending explicitly to deny all that could in any way be interpreted as form, whether figurative or even purely abstract, and the rational knowledge stemming from it. Manzoni’s breakthrough into his mature work followed his meeting with Lucio Fontana, the theorist of Spatialism and a conception of painting which went beyond the two-dimensional limits of the canvas. Other seminal influences were his frequentation of artistic circles in Albisola (Liguria), where he came into contact with the painters Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo, founders of the Movimento Arte Nucleare and promoters of a new gestural and tactile artistic vocabulary and the Dane Asger Jorn. Asger Jorn came from the experience of the dissolved group Cobra and was the guiding spirit at Albisola of the Incontri Internazionali della Ceramica, as well as being the founder, with the artist Pinot-Gallizio, of the Movimento Internazionale per una Bauhaus Immaginista (MIBI). The MIBI fostered free experiments with direct and intuitive modes of expression growing out of an irrational and impulsive matrix, in polemic with the approach to industrial design supported by Max Bill. It was in this cultural climate that Manzoni produced his first Tars and Imprints of Objects in 1956.
The first of these two series developed embryonic and vaguely anthropomorphic forms, germinal figures emerging from magmatic and coagulated pigment. they reveal the influence of Baj and “nuclear painting”, while the more homogenous coloring and the choice of a less brilliant palette already presupposed a more analytic attitude. This is confirmed by the presence of ironic inscriptions derived, at least in part, from Manzoni’s interest in psychoanalysis. The same kind of interest also appeared in his resolution to disintegrate “phenomena and gestures to discover the innermost impulses, to sever the essential from the gratuitous and banalize it with absolute precision,” as he wrote in his manifesto Per una pittura organica, published in 1957. This marked his official adherence to the Movimento Nucleare, which came to an end late in the same year.
His pictures of “imprints” model the forms of everyday objects, through which the artist explores the banal features of reality outside the painting and so heighten its autonomous visual character. Shunning any narrative, descriptive or symbolic purpose, these works underpin his development, or rather “invention” (as the artist wrote in another of his manifestos titled Per la scoperta di una zona di immagini of December 1956), of “a first alphabet of images…justified only by themselves, whose validity is determined solely by the quantity of joy they contain.”
Manzoni was born in Soncino, in the province of Cremona, on July 13th 1933, of counts Meroni Manzoni di Chiosca and Poggiolo. He studied in Milan at the Leone XIII classical ...
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