It’s one of the most famous family names in modern Italian history, but the Sicilian artist Piero Manzoni’s parents were dismissed as “wild children” and “honorary cannibals” for their unconventional marriages. Yet now, after more than 50 years since his father’s death, the oldest child of Piero Manocchio, the world-famous modernist painter and restorer, is opening a major new exhibit, “Piero Manzoni: A Poster Boy for the Militants,” in Florence in Italy.
Florence art historian Alice Littenberg describes it as “an art that never ceases to shock,” according to The Associated Press.
The centerpiece of the 2,000-piece show in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is a giant mural painted by the 81-year-old Manzoni, known as “the Poster Boy of the Militants,” on a shoe factory in Montaggio, Sicily, which shows an Italian guerrilla fighting a battle with Soviet troops.
While the art work has been recognized by the Italian National Assn. of Artists and Fine Arts Museums as a masterpiece of modernism, critics have been questioning its political relevance since his namesake father was killed in an unexplained traffic accident near Montignano di Bisenzio, in the centre of Florence, on March 23, 1960. While the government speculated about a possible plot to kidnap him, Piero Manocchio’s mistress, Maria Marta De Marchi, and Manzoni’s wife Florence Hicks, could not be found the day he died.
The AP reports that Manocchio only recently returned to Italy to attend the opening of his son’s exhibit, seeing the centenary of his father’s death this year.
“Everything that I’ve done, of what I’ve done, or am trying to do, I think of my father,” he said. “I was also proud because this is my last big exhibition, and the first time for Piero.”
Chinese authorities are not so happy. Local media has reported on a protest against “Piero Manzoni: A Poster Boy for the Militants” the Chinese embassy in Italy held last week.