The "Mano de Desierto", or "Hand of the Desert", or "Mano del Desierto" is a large-scale sculpture of a hand located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, 75 km to the south of the city of Antofagasta, on the Panamerican Highway. The nearest point of reference is the "Ciudad Empresarial La Negra", La Negra Business City.
The sculpture was constructed by the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal (1940) at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. Irarrázabal used the human figure to express emotions like injustice loneliness, sorrow and torture. Its exaggerated size of is said to emphasize human vulnerability and helplessness. The work has a base of iron and cement, and stands 11 metres (36 ft) tall. Funded by Corporación Pro Antofagasta, a local booster organization, the sculpture was inaugurated on March 28, 1992.
Mario Irarrázabal studied philosophy and art from 1960-1964 at the University of Notre Dame, IN, and theology at the Università Gregoriana Pontificia in Rome from 1965-1967. In 1968 he continued his studies under the German sculptor Otto Waldemar. He first exhibited his work in Chile in 1970, consistently using the human figure to express injustice, loneliness, helplessness, sorrow and torture, as in Judgement 1978; Valparaíso, Mus. Mun. B.A. Favouring a directness of expression in his bronzes, for which he used the lost-wax process, he sought to leave visible traces of textures and of the marks made in manipulating the material. He used the nudity of the human body, sometimes lacerated or with exaggerated proportions, the torso is sometimes unduly large in relation to the arms and legs, to emphasize its vulnerability and helplessness, reinforcing this impression by his choice of postures. Whether prone, reclining, seated or standing, the figure is always characterized by the determined way in which the head is held, which completes the expressive effect.