Penone's Portrait - Photo credits Elisabetta Cipriani

Giuseppe Penone

Italy 1947

Conceptual Art, Arte Povera

Giuseppe Penone
Giuseppe Penone
May 11, 2016
Music, Gestalt, .

Giuseppe Penone is a famous Italian sculptor, conceptual artist, and a member of the Arte Povera movement. Over more than 4 decades, Giuseppe Penone’s work has been challenging industrialized society’s understanding of our environment. Rather than seeing them as different or opposed, Penone claims that the realms of culture, nature and art are strongly and inseparately connected. His sculptures, installations and drawings have always been distinguished by his specific choice of unconventional materials and use of unique processes that are the crucial part of his work.

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Giuseppe Penone – Squash IV, 1986

Embracing Different Sculptural Processes

Giuseppe Penone was born in the late 40s in Garessio, Italy where he graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arte in Turin. Inspired by the radical politics of the late 1960’s and frustrated by the limitations of art taught by the academics, he decided to embrace different, modern sculptural practices. Even though he’s concerned about the traditional characteristics of sculptures, such as volume, matter and space, unlike regular sculptors, Penone explores the boundary that exists between the physical self and the natural environment. Each of his works reaches completion through the assimilation of its material to the natural elements.  He’s interested in exploring every possible visual, tactile and olfactory quality of a certain material, in order to bring out its most enticing property.

Artist explores the boundary that exists between the physical self and the natural environment

 artist contact tree tate life hidden modern wood home
Giuseppe Penone – Space of Light, 2008

Sculptor Interested in Arte Povera

Like other artists of Arte Povera, Giuseppe Penone demonstrates an unusual sensitivity regarding natural materials. Penone’s work, as  a whole, is a meaningful homage to the intrinsic connection between the earth, regarded as a universal material and our home, and us, human beings. Penone also emphasizes that the history of our planet is inscribed in the memory of organic and inorganic entities, including the history of the human life and presence. His sculptures are also an expression of his inner landscape – a reflection of the country where he lived as a young man and where his artistic sensibility has developed. He explains that the forest was his playing field, which later became his lab and workshop. His work also shows the metamorphosis of natural materials, which is guided by the passage of time as well as human interventions.

Natural approach matters a lot to Penone and he demonstrates a sensitivity regarding certain materials

trees branches sculptures life hidden modern wood home gallery
Giuseppe Penone – Verde del Bosco, 1986

Tree Artworks

Penone began his artistic career in 1968 when he was just 21.  However, it wasn’t until the 70s that he gained attention for his work. His famous performance from the 1970s, called To reverse one’s eyes, was the true beginning of his signature style and working with trees. In this performance, Penone was wearing mirrored contact lenses, which blinded him. He had to find his way forward using his feet and hands, which emphasized the human body’s connection with its environment. Generally speaking, in the early 1970s, Penone used his body as the main subject or tool – for example, he was projecting images from the surface of his skin to wall surfaces. Vessels, fingerprints and body images were the main motifs in his work throughout this decade. In the 1980s, he started using agricultural tools made of metal, terracotta and wood, which eventually lead to Penone’s dedication to sculptures representing trees. He began to craft tree sculptures out of various materials, revealing the structures behind bark and skin, branches and limbs. He has created a lot of his famous pieces in the mid-80s, such as Verde del Bosco or Ripetere il Bosco. In 2001, he received the Rolf Schock Prize  and in 2007, he participated in the famous Venice Biennale. Nowadays, his work is included in the collections of the most eminent galleries and museums, such as Tate Gallery in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, MAXXI in Rome, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as well as MOMA in New York.

Penone crafts tree sculptures out of various materials, revealing the hidden structures behind tree branches

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Giuseppe Penone – Being the River, Repeating the Forest, 2015-2016

Sign of Panta Rei Philosophy

Penone’s work seem to endorse the famous Heraclitus’ phrase panta rei, meaning everything flows. His pieces are strongly related to the nature of rivers, forests, even human breath, which are all representing the essence of movement, transformation, life and death. Through his unique sculptural pieces made of natural materials, Penone reveals the incessant movement, found at the very center of the natural cycles within all living creatures including us, human beings. His art is reestablishing the connection between nature, culture and human mind.

He is represented by Kunzt Gallery, GAGOSIAN Beverly Hills, GAGOSIAN Britannia Street London, GAGOSIAN Madison Ave, GAGOSIAN Park & 75, GAGOSIAN West 21th Street and GAGOSIAN 24th Street.

Giuseppe Penone lives and works between Turin, Italy and Paris, France.

Featured image: Giuseppe Penone’s portrait – Photo credits © Elisabetta Cipriani
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YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Leaves of StoneGagosian Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2016Being the River, Repeating the ForestNasher Sculpture Center, DallasSolo
2016New SkinAishti Foundation, BeirutGroup
2015Installment 2: The CollectionFoundation Louis VuittonGroup
2015Italian Artists as JewellersElisabetta Cipriani, LondonGroup
2014Branches of ThoughtGagosian Gallery Beverly HillsSolo
2014CirclingGagosian Gallery LondonSolo
2014Ideas of StoneMadison Square Park, NYCSolo
2014Arsenal Montreal + TorontoMain Room, MontrealGroup
2012Intersecting GazeGagosian Gallery LondonSolo
2010–2011Giuseppe PenoneSpazio MAXXI Rom, ItalyGroup
2010–2011Giuseppe Penone, MAC’s Grand Hornu Musee des Arts Contemporains, BelgiumGroup
2010–2011Die Natur der Kunst Kunstmuseum WinterthurGroup
2010–2011Exhibition, Exhibition Castello die Rivoli, TurinGroup
2009–2010Die Kunst ist super! Hamburger Bahnhof, BerlinGroup
2009Giuseppe PenoneToyota Municipal Museum of ArtSolo
2009Giuseppe PenoneGlynn Vivian Art Gallery, SwanseaGroup
2009Die grosse Unschuld Kunsthalle Bielefeld, GermanyGroup
2009Giuseppe PenoneMamco GenfGroup
2009Giuseppe PenonePalazzo Manganelli, CataniaGroup
2009The russian Linesman (curated by Mark Wallinger) Hayward Gallery, LondonGroup
2009Giuseppe PenoneBuchmann Galerie, Berlin Solo
2009Glasstress Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, Venice, ItalyGroup
2008–2009Made in Munich Haus der Kunst, Munich, GermanyGroup
2008MAMbo Museo d'Arte Moderna di BolognaSolo
2008Giuseppe PenoneFrith Street Gallery LondonSolo
2008Giuseppe PenoneMarion Goodman Gallery Paris and New York (solo)Group
2008Giuseppe PenoneGiardino delle Sculture Fluide Le Veneria Reale, Torino Solo
2008Giuseppe PenoneAcademie de France a Rome-Villa Medici, RomeSolo
2008Giuseppe PenoneHaus der Kunst, MunichGroup
2008Giuseppe PenoneFruitmarket Gallery, EdinburghGroup
2008Giuseppe PenoneHVCCA - Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill (NY)Group
2008Giuseppe Penone16th. Biennale Sydney SydneyGroup
2008Giuseppe PenoneMEDIATIONS BIENNALE Poznan Posen (PL)Group
2008Giuseppe PenoneNeue Galerie GrazGroup
2008Giuseppe Penone ARTS Bureau des médiateurs, Le HavreGroup
2008Giuseppe PenoneModerna Museet StockholmGroup
2008Giuseppe PenoneCastello di Rivoli, TurinGroup
2008The Florence & Daniel Guerlain Collection Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New YorkGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneThe Morgan Libraty & Museum, New YorkGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneTel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel AvivGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneFRAC Pays de Loire, NantesGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneMAMbo Museo d’arte moderna, BolognaGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneKunstmuseum, LiechtensteinGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneMusee Louvre, ParisGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneMusee de GrenobleGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneFundacian La Caixa, Caixaforum, Fundacio La Caixa, BarcelonaGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneMusee national d’Art moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, ParisGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneThe Museum of Modern Art, New YorkGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Guy Bartschi, GenfGroup
2007Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Alice Pauli, LausanneGroup
2007Sculture di linfa, 52. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte La Biennale di Venezia, Italian Pavillion, VeniceGroup
2006Giuseppe PenoneMuseum Kurhaus KleveGroup
2006CeSAC Centro Sperimentale per le Arti Contemporanee Il Filatoio, Caraglio, Cuneo, ItalyGroup
2006Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Alice Pauli, LausanneGroup
2006Monuments with a Horizon Line Buchmann Galerie, BerlinGroup
2006Giuseppe PenoneFrith Street Gallery, LondonGroup
2006Giuseppe PenoneGrand Palais, ParisGroup
2006François Pinault collection Pallazo Grassi, VeniceGroup
2004MNAM Centre Georges Pompidou, ParisGroup
2004Giuseppe PenoneThe Drawing Center, New-YorktGroup
2004Giuseppe PenoneFundacio La Caixa, BarceloneGroup
2003Giuseppe PenoneChiesa della Maddalena, PesaroGroup
2002Spazio per l’Arte ContemporaneaTor Bella Monaca, RomeGroup
2002Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Durand-Dessert, ParisGroup
2001Fujikawa Gallery Next, OsakaGroup
2000Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Alice Pauli LausanneGroup
2000Giuseppe PenoneMarian Goodman Gallery, New-YorkGroup
1999Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea Saint Jacques de CompostelleGroup
1999Giuseppe PenoneThe Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, DublinGroup
1997Giuseppe PenoneKunstmuseum, BonnGroup
1997Giuseppe PenoneCarre d’Art- Musee d’Art Contemporain, NimesGroup
1997Giuseppe PenoneGalleria Civica d’Arte Contetmporanea, TrenteGroup
1997Giuseppe PenoneDe Pont Foundation for Arts, TilburgGroup
1994Giuseppe PenoneCentro Culturale Teresa Orsola Bussa de Rossi, FossanoGroup
1993Giuseppe PenoneMusee Cheteau d’Annecy, AnnecyGroup
1991Giuseppe PenoneMusee d’Art Moderne, StrasbourgGroup
1991Giuseppe PenoneCastello di Rivoli- Museo d’Arte Contemporaneo, RivoliGroup
1989Giuseppe PenoneDean Clough Art Foundation, Halifax (G.B.)Group
1988Giuseppe PenoneMusee Rodin, ParisGroup
1986Giuseppe PenoneMusee des Beaux Arts , NantesGroup
1986Giuseppe PenoneMusee de peinture et sculpture, GrenobleGroup
1984Giuseppe PenoneARC- Musee d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, ParisGroup
1983Giuseppe PenoneMuseum of Contemporary Art, ChicagoGroup
1983Giuseppe PenoneNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
1982Giuseppe PenoneStadtisches Museum Abteiberg, MonchengladbachGroup
1980Giuseppe PenoneStedelijk Museum, AmsterdamGroup
1980Giuseppe PenoneHalle fur International Neue Kunst, ZurichGroup
1978Giuseppe PenoneStaatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-BadenGroup
1977Giuseppe PenoneKunstmuseum, LucerneGroup
1973Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Sperone-Fischer, RomeGroup
1973Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Paul Maenz, CologneGroup
1972Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Paul Maenz, CologneGroup
1970Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Toselli, MilanGroup
1969Giuseppe PenoneGalerie Sperone, TurinGroup