Merda d'artista, by Piero Manzoni, is perhaps my favourite piece of art.
Alledgedly produced in repsonse to Manzoni's father's comment that to him that "Your work is shit", Merda d'artista is more than just a literal reply to a figurative rebuke: it's a statement on the process of creation and the value of art, both social and financial; the original 90 cans were offered for sale by weight priced according to the value of gold.

I love the idea that what is ordinarily seem as filthy, disgusting excriment, and something to be disposed of, can become a peice of art: that people were prepared to pay for a can of shit its weight in gold; that today it is worth far more than its weight in gold. And I love the possible irony that the cans may not actually contain the artist's shit (the contents are unkown), that people are not buying what they think they are buying.

It's a great work with many layers of meaning: much more than I could elaberate adequately. Read here for a more detailed analysis of the work.

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Yes, it is not about what it is, but what we perceive it to be. Of course, gullibility plays a big role here. I have mixed feelings about this kind of art. I don't normally like to put constraints on expression of any form. But it doesn't really involve skill, insight, hard work, or talent.

Meaning, yes. Layers of meaning? Not really. Not in my opinion. It is simply the comodification of ideas. He doesn't even have to have any intent in this--he doesn't have to any ideas or goal. The intent will be created, assumed, analyzed, or imagined by gallery owners and the public. They'll nod and wink and hand over fistfulls of cash while assuming that they are part of the in-crowd that "get's it."

Manzoni is clever, to be sure. Clever enough to make a profit off of people's gullibility and their desire to possess that which they consider to be rarified (for no other reason than satiate their own egos).

So to me it is stupid, but in a way, also really funny. But also kind of insulting to artists such as Michelangelo and DaVinci, who worked really, really hard to create meaningful, beautiful, and timeless works of art.

So like I said, I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.

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