idealistic, compared, for example, with the modern phenomenological approach espoused by Fontana, who sought to make a concept present by crossing the physicality of a complex, dynamic relationship with reality and its expansive possibilities. Similarly, the creative solution which Manzoni, deliberately using similar terminology, was shortly to define as achrome was not the pure experience of chromatic reductionism postulated by Verheyen, but a way of appropriating the world concretely in a neutralising vein, to save it from transience and decay and translate it into a totalising vision. Achrome: a vision of concreteness After these initial contacts in Milan, Verheyen tried to get the Italians to exhibit in Antwerp together with artists from other countries, with Manzoni acting as intermediary. On 30 January 1959, he wrote to Verheyen with the address of Yves Klein, c/o Werner Ruhnau in Gelsenkirchen, and suggested he ask Klein for the addresses of the “two other German monochrome painters” (most likely Heinz Mack and Otto Piene of Dusseldorf). Manzoni also put Verheyen in touch with Agostino Bonalumi and Castellani, whose creative ideas he shared during this period. In a letter written some time in March 1959, he added: I will also speak with other interesting young artists keen on exhibiting: so if you can get a fair number of good painters, you will be able to make your own selection for the exhibition. I, too, am interested in this exhibition: it is a pity that here in Milan we’re going through a bit of a crisis, so I can’t afford to come to Antwerp: but as soon as I’ve got some cash, I’ll come straight away. I am also interested in Michiels’ books: you know, I’ve already got all the proofs ready and I would really like him to write an introduction.
Manzoni himself turned down the opportunity of holding a solo exhibition in Antwerp because he could not undertake the journey, given his many commitments in Italy and the work required in preparing the Azimuth review, the first issue of which was published in September 1959. In his Essentialisme manifesto, Verheyen used the term “achrome”, which may be translated as “colourless”, and which, during the spring of 1959, was adopted by Manzoni for the titles of his current works, thereby summarising a radical concept and signalling its international currency, 148
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen