The first stages in his path of individuation comprised the minor solo show that Manzoni inaugurated on the 23rd of October in the foyer of the Teatro alle Maschere and the one that opened on the 3rd of December at the Galleria del Corriere della Provincia di Como, on the occasion of which he published the most accomplished, thoughtful text from this period of activism, “Prolegomeni a un’attività artistica” (Prolegomena to an artistic activity), which concludes thus: “The surface-space of the work concerns the self-analytical process only in as much as a space of freedom in which we explore; like a table of the presence of germs around which and on which we are organically constituted. Here the image takes form in its vital function: it cannot have value for that which it recalls, explains or expresses (if anything, the question is one of creating) nor wish or be able to be explained as an allegory of a physical process: it is of value only in that it is: being”.

The exhibition effectively coincided with the conclusion of Manzoni’s experience within the Nuclear orbit and his initial experimentation with the Achromes, begun in the final months of that year (in April 1955, Claude Bellegarde presented the exhibition Achrome at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan while in January 1957 Yves Klein presented his Proposte monocrome. Epoca Blue in the same space), which he saw as being in complete contrast to the ever more explicit iconographical anchors of his artistic companions.


Tenderly, ca. 1957, oil on wood, 130 × 83 cm

Untitled, 1957, tar and enamel on cardboard, 38 × 28 cm

Achrome, 1957-58, gesso, 120 × 60 cm