For Penone the main significance of this work maybe as an image of the act of creation. related to various myths and to the common phrase 'to breathe life into' something. Commenting on the 'Breath' series of sculptures in 1978 Penone wrote '... according to a myth the creator of man was the God Khnum, who is represented as a potter shaping man on his wheel. In another myth, Athena breathes life into men whom Prometheus had made from clay and water. With its impression of both the artist's mouth and at least part of his body, the work represents both the act of creation and the man created. The idea for the 'Breath' sculptures came from a series of drawings made by Leonardo da Vinci of how he imagined the currents of air in a single breath. He based his design on patterns he had observed in running water. Penone's association of this work with the act of creation suggests that with its great thick-lipped cleft and bulbous form it may be seen as a gigantic image of female fertility, which the spectator almost seems invited to enter.
Simon Wilson, Tate Gallery: An Illustrated Companion, Tate Gallery, London, revised edition 1991, p.289