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    Sale 12244

    The Italian Sale

    6 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 119


    Piede (Foot)


    This lot has been withdrawn

    Piede (Foot)

    plaster and hair, projector, slides
    foot: 9 1/8 x 10 ¼ x 3 7/8in. (23 x 26 x 10cm.)
    overall dimension variable
    Executed in 1973

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    ‘Feet compress the battlefield, the sedimentation of memory, of gestures, of matter’ (GIUSEPPE PENONE)

    Piede (Foot) (1973) consists of a plaster-cast of Giuseppe Penone’s own foot, with the eerie addition of real hair; a photograph of the same foot is projected upon its surface, overlaying it like a luminous skin. This intriguing doppelgänger is one of an important series of works made by Penone that replicate parts of the artist’s body cast in plaster, illuminated by colour slides of these same fragments projected onto them. Part of Penone’s continuous exploration of the way in which man as an organic being interacts with and effects the natural world around him and is in turn affected by it, this series of works evolved out of an earlier project entitled Svolgere la propria pelle (To unroll one’s skin). This was a book that mapped the artist’s anatomy using six photographs of a glass slide pressed against different parts of his body.
    For Penone, the skin as the exterior form of the body – the part that both interacts with the outside world and which formally defines the boundary between the person and his environment – is a key point of encounter between man and nature. A natural sculptural form, the skin is a physical limit, an encasement and definition of the human form at any given point in time. Never static but constantly changing, it, like a river or the bark of a tree, is in a permanent state of flux and growth. Casting a body part in plaster arrests this form in a specific moment in time like a fossil, another important natural process which for Penone is closely related to the concept of sculpture.
    In Piede, Penone presents a tautological image of his foot. Through the dual method of sculpture and photography he has fixed the process of change and ageing in a specific time and space and interrupted it with a hiatus, in much the same way that he had done in 1968 when he inserted a bronze cast of his hand into a growing tree in the work Continuera a crescere tranne che in quel punto (It will continue to grow except at this point). In the process of making the plaster-cast of his foot for this work, a number of hairs were removed and are thus absent from the photograph which was taken after the casting. Reversing his insertion of an inanimate cast into the living organism of a tree, Penone has here reunited these hairs with the image of his foot by inserting them into the inanimate, fossil-like plaster-cast replica of where they originally came from. By projecting the photographic image of his later, de-haired foot over the plaster-cast, Penone seems to transcend past, present, and future, and a living or animate quality appears to have been bestowed on this fragment of the human form.

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    S. Ermini Collection, Brescia.
    Liliane and Michele Durand-Dessert Collection, Paris.
    Anon. Sale, Sotheby's London, 15 October 2007, lot 47.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    C. Grenier, Giuseppe Penone, Paris 2004 (incorrectly dated, illustrated in colour, pp. 84 and 290).


    Marseille, Musée d'Art Contemporain, L'Art au Corps, 1996.