press release

Gagosian Gallery Davies Street, London

Following the acclaimed exhibition “Manzoni: A Retrospective” in New York in 2009, Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present “Manzoni: Azimut” at the Davies Street gallery in London. Organized in cooperation with the Fondazione Piero Manzoni, the exhibition celebrates the work of Manzoni and friends during the brief life of the Azimut gallery in Milan from 1959 to 1960.

On December 4 1959, Azimut opened, in the basement of a furniture store on a narrow street around the corner from La Scala in Milan, with an exhibition of Manzoni’s most radical work to date: Linee (Lines), drawings of a single line on a length of paper, which he rolled up and sealed in a cardboard tube, then labeled and signed. A youthful, experimental exhibition space that lasted just eight months, Azimut presented thirteen exhibitions and became a nerve center for an international set of provocative young artists. The founding of the gallery by Manzoni and Enrico Castellani, with the help of their mentor Lucio Fontana, followed their collaboration onAzimuth, a journal dedicated to the “development of the newest and youngest avant-garde painting.” Featuring works by Robert Rauschenberg, Heinz Mack, Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, and others, the two issues of Azimuthstand as essential documents of a radical new conception of painting at the end of the 1950s.

The exhibition “Manzoni: Azimut” brings together pivotal examples of Manzoni’s serial Achromes, Linee, Uovo scultura (Egg Sculptures) and Corpo d’Aria (Artist’s Breath) with early experimental paintings by his friends and collaborators in the Azimut project Enrico Castellani, Agostino Bonalumi, Dadamaino, and Lucio Fontana. It is accompanied by a comprehensive publication by art historian Francesca Pola that tells the story of the Azimut/Azimuth project and includes facsimiles of the journal with new English translations.

Piero Manzoni was born in Soncino, Italy, in 1933 and died in Milan in 1963. His brief career was one of the most radically inventive of the twentieth century, producing a body of work that continues to challenge the definitions of artistic sovereignty and virtuosity. His work is represented in public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Modern, London; and Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin. It has been the subject of numerous international exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris (1991), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1992), Serpentine Gallery, London (1998), and MADRE, Naples (2007). The 2009 Gagosian Gallery exhibition, curated by Germano Celant, was the first comprehensive U.S. retrospective of Manzoni’s work.