Dated on the left side, 1971. Signed, titled and dated on the back, "Paul Neagu, Bronze Hand, 1971"
Bronze Hand is a complex and intriguing work by Paul Neagu that complements two other companion artworks, Full Hand and Empty Hand, created by Neagu between 1970 and 1971, which are now included in the collection of Tate Museum. The lot comes from Marina Dimitropoulos' collection and was featured in its catalogue.
The hand is a motif that has been reiterated throughout the artist's oeuvre and has been linked by the artist to both humans’ creative capacity and their ability to perceive the sensation of touch. This duality reveals Neagu’s intention to emphasise the tactile quality of art as opposed to its traditional visual characteristics. As he wrote in the 1969 Palpable Art Manifesto!, "the eye is fatigued, perverted, shallow, its culture is degenerate, degraded and obsolete, seduced by photography, film, television", thus "you can take things in better, more completely, with your ten fingers, pores and mucous membranes than with only two eyes." To prove his point, Neagu created the three pieces mentioned above which, although conceived in the shape of a hand, can be disassembled and reconstructed by the spectator.
Neagu started the series of “tactile” and “palpable” objects in Bucharest in 1969 and continued it in London, between 1970 and 1972. The theme was explored through several important exhibitions that marked the artist’s introduction to the western European audience: in 1969, Tactile and Palpable Art at Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh and Tactile Objects, in Bauzentrum, Hamburg, followed in 1970 by Tactile Objects and Anthropocosmos at the Sigi Krauss Gallery, London, Tactile Objects at the Compass Gallery, Glasgow in 1971, Anthropocosmos at Galerie Rivolta, Lausanne in 1972 and Tactile and Palpable Objects at Serpentine Gallery, London, in 1973.
The cell-like structure of the work underlines Neagu’s philosophy, according to which everything that exists is simultaneously distinct and interconnected. Neagu’s powerful vision proved particularly influential on prominent contemporary sculptors, such as Turner Prize winners Anish Kapoor and Tony Cragg.