Artwork of the month June

Giuseppe Penone, Soffio di foglie, 1982

Giuseppe Penone

* 1947 in Garessio in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont (IT) lives in Turin (IT)

Soffio di foglie, 1982

Bronze, wood

410 x 300 x 180 cm

The artwork Soffio di foglie (Breath of Leaves) presents six thin trees in their natural growth development. Standing upright one next to the other, they penetrate a sculptural bronze volume. But what created this piece of bronze with a large dip in the middle at head height? It is the artist's breath, exhaled into a pile of fallen leaves: "(...) I wanted (...) to visualise volume and weight. By breathing into the leaves, I blew them aside. That gave me an analogue form of my breath." Casting the act in bronze, the heavy metallic material depicts the invisible volume of the breath in three dimensions, thus allowing the beholder to experience the artist's vigorous life energy. An energy that is inhaled into our body, pervading it, filling it completely, keeping it alive, finally to be exhaled – an invisible process, a constant exchange with the world. Giuseppe Penone, an exponent of Arte Povera, describes the relevance of breath as follows in his prose on the Soffio series: "Breathing is the automatic, involuntary sculpture that brings us closest to osmosis with things. It is the action that annuls the shell, the identity of the skin."

By means of the title, Soffio di foglie, with which the artist forges a link between human and plant respiration, Penone poetically emphasises the mutual relationship between the human being and nature, as reflected, for example, by the Greek word pneuma – meaning breath or wind, but also spirit. What is more, Soffio di foglie also reveals the significance of energy in nature and culture. By means of sculpture, Penone weaves the natural energy found in growth processes or in breath with the intellectual energy upon which all cultural activity is conditioned. The latter is expressed, for example, in the creation and processing of bronze as a culturally acquired activity or in the creative act of making an artwork itself.

Denise Rigaud

<b>Giuseppe Penone, Soffio di foglie, 1982</b>
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein highlights a work from the permanent collection each month throughout the year. Works from the collection of the Hilti Art Foundation are also included in this series on a regular basis.