Piero Manzoni was born Count Meroni Manzoni di Chiosca e Poggiolo on July 13, 1933, in Soncino, Italy. Self-taught, he started his artistic career as a painter, making gestural, abstract works. In the 1950s, he began to question traditional methods of art making and explored the ties among artistic practice, the collective unconscious, and so-called primal, universal imagery through manifestos: one coproduced with Ettore Sordini, Camillo Corvi-Morra, and Giuseppe Zecca (1956) and one produced independently (1957). Both were titled “Per la scoperta di una zona di immagini” (For the discovery of a zone of images). He spent the final years of his life continuing to experiment with new materials including chemically altered cotton (which changed color with fluctuations in temperature), kaolin-covered dinner rolls, rocks, and wastepaper. Manzoni died of heart attack in his studio on February 6, 1963, in Milan.
His work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions at institutions including the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (1969); Kunstverein Hannover, West Germany (1970); Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (1972); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1991); Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’arte contemporanea, Italy (1992); Museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples (2007). His works are held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.