Penone is, along with Merz and 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." In his search for the quintessential image of humans in motion, Penone, with "Path", joins the ranks of the great classics of sculptural history. This piece evokes the antique spirit of the "Nike of Samothrace", the transformation of the nymph into a laurel tree depicted in Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne", as well as the force of Rodin's "The Walking Man" and Boccioni's Futurist version of the same subject.
© Giuseppe Penone / SOCAN (2020)