Giuseppe Penone focuses primarily on processes in nature. One example of this is breath, ‘soffio’ in Italian, for Penone suggesting the exchange between humans and their natural surroundings. This work, ‘Soffio I’, consists of a human-sized rounded form in red clay, in which Penone has made an impression of his own body. The oral cavity can clearly be seen at the top, a hole through which air might be blown into the clay. This is a reference to the many myths about the creation of the earth and the human race. In Genesis, the first man is made out of the primordial clay, into which God then breathes life. In this sculpture, it is the creative artist who breathes life into the clay. Penone is part of the Italian Arte Povera group. These artists used simple, ‘poor’ materials in an attempt to transcend the oppositions between nature, human beings and culture.
c/o Pictoright Amsterdam/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Translated title

Breath No. I



Production date



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147.5 x 71 x 76.5cm.



Object number

BA 3619