Piero Manzoni Devouring Art analyzes the works of Manzoni associated with Food Art, moving in every possible direction and without preclusions of any sort. It highlights the unique nature of his experimental research, rooted in the creation and formulation of an avant-garde language of expression and capable of broadening the horizon of perception of the spectator in every sphere and on every sensorial level.
Milan, Thursday 21 July, 1960: Piero Manzoni welcomes his guests to his exhibition-event in the Azimut Gallery, Consumazione dinamica del pubblico dell’arte (Consumption of Art by the Art-Devouring Public), consisting of 150 hard-boiled eggs on a table, on which he has placed a thumbprint. They are works of art, sculptures ready to be eaten in exactly seventy minutes; and his audience, without any hesitation, devours them all, one by one, under the artist’s vigilant eye.
Between the end of 1950 and the beginning of the 1960s, avant-garde art was undergoing radical change on an international scale: painting and sculpture in the academic sense were suddenly thrown into question, traditional-style exhibitions were being replaced by events, or happenings which placed the spectator in the center of the scene, becoming the fulcrum around which the artist’s action unfolded. Having deprived the easel of its traditional role by using non-paint media (like plaster and kaolin, which he used extensively in his Achrome series), to cancel it and thus overcome the concepts of figurative and abstract art, Manzoni focused his research entirely on human behavior, with the aim of creating a direct rapport between a work and its spectator. With his Consumption of Art by the Art-Devouring Public, a performance laden with symbolic meaning and regarded as somewhat scandalous, through the consumption of eggs, he was aiming to sanctify the rapport created between the artist, his creations and the public. At the same time, he embarked on a critical attack of the art institutions of the time, which he saw and felt were at the service of the incipient consumer society.