Piero Manzoni is strongly opposed to the prevailing traditions in art and rejects any form of symbolism, expression or representation. He expresses this radical vision in a provocative way. Thus he exhibits and sells his own faeces, for the value of its own weight in gold. Or, he places an overturned pedestal in the landscape, whereby the world is presented as a work of art.
A white surface
In 1957, he creates his first Achromes: pleated canvases soaked in kaolin and then painted white. These do not pretend to be anything more than painted white material with a summary arrangement: ‘[It is] far beyond any pictorial phenomenon […]. Not a material in evolution or a beautiful material, not a sensation or a symbol or anything else: just a white surface that is simply a white surface and nothing else, better than that: a surface that simply is: to be’.
Toward the end of his short life, Manzoni makes a series of Achromes with long, woolly tufts of glass wool. These works are also called Nuages (clouds). They have the same neutrality as his earlier Achromes. However, here the material is no longer arranged and shows only its characteristic properties: a quantity of white billowing glass wool.