Just a can - shit or gold?

 Piero Manzoni. Merde dArtiste no. 33 and Piero Manzoni 1961. Fotograf Ole BaggerPiero Manzoni in Herning, 1960-1961. Photo: Ole Bagger / HEART


Have you ever heard about the can? The can of shit, artist's shit or its real name "Merda d'Artista" made by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni in 1961.

As is often the case, the world famous can is on loan. Every year HEART is contacted by museums from all over the world wishing to lend the provocative art work. This time it resides within Danish artist Per Kirkeby's exhibition at Gammel Strand Museum in Copenhagen in accordance with the artist's wishes. However, it will return to HEART at the end of April.


Meanwhile HEART highlights the story of one on the world's most provocative art works of the 21st century in the exhibition: Just a can - shit or gold? with 90 replicas of the artwork.

In May 1961 the Italian artist filled and sealed 90 small cans containing his own faees. The can label reads: "Artist's shit, contents: 30 gr net freshly preserved produces and tinned in May 1961". 


Understandably the piece has caused outrage and public denouncements ever since. Why would someone put their own faeces in a can? And is it art? That's not all - at the time Manzoni sold the cans for the same price as 30 grams of gold thus claiming his own faeces to have the same value as gold.

Learn more about Merda d'Artista and other works by Manzoni. For other pieces the artist also signed women so they became "living" works of art, and filled balloons with his breath as well - all in the name of art.

For this exhibition Manzoni is joined by other artists from HEART's unique italian collection: Jannis Kounellis, Enrico Castellani, Paolo Scheggi and Lucio Fontana.