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    Sale 7618

    The Italian Sale

    20 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 127

    Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947)


    Price Realised  


    Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947)
    charcoal on four sheets of paper laid down on canvas
    79 7/8 x 78¾in. (203 x 200cm.)
    Executed in 1982

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    Pressione initially appears to show some strange, abstract, swirling mass of gestures reminiscent of Action Painting. And yet this is in fact an intensely figurative work, a drawing of the patterns of a section of skin of the artist, Giuseppe Penone, executed in 1982. In order to create this work, Penone applied the pressure of the title twice: first in pressing pigment, adhesive tape and flesh together, and then, when he projected the resultant image against the picture surface, in pressing the charcoal against the paper, following the strange patterns that criss-cross this insanely magnified segment of skin.

    Penone's earliest works had often concerned themselves with man's interface with Nature. Gradually, the artist's own body became increasingly central to the works, resulting in Svolgere la propria pelle, executed in 1970 and shown at Documenta 5. This work consisted of segmented images of the entirety of Penone's body surface being developed photographically onto the glass of a window. This strange, modern stained glass window showed Penone's skin essentially at life size; in the Pressione works, he introduced a new distance through the projection process, allowing him to magnify the impressions. In some spaces, he would draw directly on the walls of the gallery, meaning that the viewers were enveloped by the web-like image of his skin. They were thus invited into his world as he created a more universal zone of experience. Similarly, when Pressione was shown at Documenta 7 in 1982, this effect was created by discrete 'pictures' on the walls.

    For Penone, the skin is the boundary between each individual and the world. It is a unique surface behind which lurks each unique personality. It is the wall that separates us from the universe around us, containing us within our own subjective experiences. At the same time, it is the point of collision between worlds, the domain in which so much of our experience of the world is felt. And, like the trees that have been such recurring touchstones for the artist, skin bears the traces of our experiences, of our growth, of our accidents, becoming a micro-terrain defined by our own personal histories. Skin, and the way that the world comes into contact with it and leaves its trace, whether briefly or in the form of a scar, is a narrative in itself, a surface that developes, like a photograph, but reacting not only to light but to every other element with which we come into contact. 'The animal image, the imprint is involuntary culture,' Penone explained.

    'It has the intelligence of the material, a universal intelligence, an intelligence of the flesh of the material of man. The imprint of the whole epidermis of one's body, a leap into the air, a plunge into water, the body covered with earth. Developing one's skin against the air, water, earth, rock, walls, trees, dogs, handrails, windows, roads, hair, hats, handles, wings, doors, seats, stairs, clothes, books, eyes, sheep, mushrooms, grass, skin...' (G. Penone, quoted in Giuseppe Penone: Sculture di linfa, exh. cat., Venice 2007, p. 222).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Galerie Konrad Fischer, Cologne.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in February 1995.

    Pre-Lot Text



    G. Celant, Penone, Milan 1989 (illustrated, p. 112).
    I. Gianelli and G. Verzotti, Giuseppe Penone, exh. cat., Turin, Castello di Rivoli, 1991 (illustrated, p. 206).


    Kassel, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Documenta 7, June-September 1982.
    Bremen, Neues Museum Weserburg, Arte Povera. Arbeiten und Dokumente aus der Sammlung Goetz. 1958 bis heute, June-September 1997 (illustrated, p. 169). This exhibition later traveled to Nürenberg, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, October-December 1997; Cologne, Kölnischer Kunstverein, February-April 1998; Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, June-August 1998 and Gothenborg, Konsthallen Goteborg, September-October 1998.