Piero Manzoni
Line 6 m
1959
Ink on paper in cardboard cylinder
Height 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Archivio Opera Piero Manzoni, Milan

Piero Manzoni's Lines come in sealed containers that are not meant to be opened. Each metal or cardboard cylinder has a plaque or label that indicates the length of the Line within and the date of its execution. A line has a physical reality when it is a visual element in art or life, but it can also be an abstract concept—for example, when it is the shortest distance between two points or locations. Some of Manzoni's sealed containers have been opened, and they contain rolls of paper with lines painted down them in ink, so the Lines are actual physical things. Because most viewers must take the contents of the cylinders on faith, however, they are also intellectual abstractions. At least one container is labeled "a line of infinite length," raising questions about the veracity of Manzoni's labeling and the degree to which captions are documentation or subjective description.