Manzoni and Anal Alchemy
Jamieson Webster

Ursula Magazine

Jamieson Webster, “Manzoni and Anal Alchemy. Thoughts on Art, Shit and ‘Merda d’artista’ at 60”, in Ursula Magazine, May 2021

Sculptor Oscar Nemon and Sigmund Freud, Vienna, 1930

© Ullstein Bild / Getty Images

Psychoanalyst and writer Jamieson Webster on art, shit and ‘Merda d’artista.’


The psychoanalytic cosmology of anality hovering just above Manzoni’s 1961 work ‘Artist’s Shit’ feels both glaringly obvious and abundantly resonant: the popular Freudian lore about the vicissitudes of potty training; the tropes about certain kinds of characters whom we’ve come to describe as ‘anal’; the suggestion that artists number among those transgressors who insist on continuing to play with their feces long after the rest of us have learned not to.