Giuseppe Penone is, along with Mario Merz and Jannis Kounellis, one of the driving forces behind Arte Povera, an art movement that took shape in Italy in the late 1960s. Inspired by the theory of critic Germano Celant and very much in the spirit of the cultural liberation movements of the time, Arte Povera advocated a return to "the real man" who throws off the heavy burden of history. This sculpture illustrates the deep-seated desire for a closer bond between human beings and nature that pervades all Penone's art. The title itself refers to this goal and suggests how to achieve it. Reproducing traces of the artist's hands left in the ground, this large cast-bronze piece shows a creature composed of leaves and branches in which close scrutiny reveals a human face. "The path follows the man," wrote the artist. "It is the moment between man's passing and the instant in which the effect of his passing vanishes. Finding the path, walking along it, charting it by clearing it of nettles – this is what the sculpture is about."
© Giuseppe Penone / SOCAN (2021)