At Sotheby’s London, eight bidders drove Piero Manzoni’s monumental Achrome well beyond pre-sale expectations to £12,626,500 or €15,872,822 – the estimate was between 5 to 7 million pounds. This establishes the highest price across all the Frieze auctions this week. The work by Manzoni was the top lot in an evening sale where collectors battled for a series of luminous works, which resulted in records being smashed in the process.
Alongside works by Manzoni, other works by Castellani, Bonalumi and Simeti – all of the works were white in this themed event – the sales of which nearly doubled the previous records for the artists. Appearing auction for the first time ever, Manzoni’s Achrome (1958-59) represents the height of the artist’s ground-breaking Achrome series.
Piero Manzoni, 1933 – 1963, was an Italian artist best known for his ironic approach to avant-garde art. Often compared to the work of Yves Klein, Manzoni’s work changed irrevocably after attending Yves Klein’s exhibition ‘Epoca Blu’ at the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan, January 1957. The exhibition consisted of 11 identical blue monochromes. Manzoni ceased producing work influenced by the prevailing trends to works that responded directly to Klein’s monochromes. The artist called the body of work Achromes, which invariably looked white but were actually colourless. In these paintings Manzoni experimented with various pigments and materials.
The oeuvre of art by the artist is considered one of the most revolutionary sublime contributions to the post-war age. The work was last exhibited at the Tate Modern’s ‘Beyond Painting’ exhibition in 2005.
The painting was the star lot at Sotheby’s auction of Italian Art which established a grand total of £41,406,650 or €52,052,461 – the highest ever total for an auction of 20th century Italian Art.