Title of Artwork: “Body of Air”
Artwork by Piero Manzoni
Year Created 1959
Summary of Body of Air
“Corpo d’aria” (which translates as “Body of Air” or “Corpi d’aria”). It consists of a tripod stand, deflated balloon, mouthpiece, and box, all of which were produced between October 1959 and March 1960. Forty-five copies were printed, and each one sold for 30,000 lire. When Manzoni first started selling balloons, the consumer could ask him to inflate it himself for an additional Deutschmark per litre of air. Upon complete inflation, the balloons’ diameter was 80 cm.
From May 3 to May 9, 1960, Manzoni and his friend, the Italian artist Enrico Castellani, showed their “Corpi d’aria” for the first time in the gallery they ran together, Galleria Azimut. To promote the show, Manzoni arranged for a picture shoot and a film to be made. He was going to report on how well the bodies had sold later that year.
Manzoni was making fun of the traditional sculpture emphasis on permanence and the artist’s creative force by creating a work that would deflate before the buyer’s eyes. At the same time that he was employing contemporary materials to indicate an aggressively contemporary style, he was also constructing a metaphor for the ephemeral nature of existence.