Ugo Rondinone - Photo of the artist, 2013 - Photo Credits The New York Times

Ugo Rondinone

Switzerland 1964

Installation, Sculpture

Ugo Rondinone
Ugo Rondinone
December 20, 2014
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Ugo Rondinone is a Swiss installation artist best known for his spray paintings and video environments that bear a strong sense of melancholy and alienation. The artist is based in New York and his themes usually try to find a middle ground between fantasy and reality, dancing on a razor’s edge of euphoria and depression. This phenomenal artist has been active for years now, never failing to bring us fresh and original pieces that continue to amaze us to this day. Besides installations, Ugo is also quite active in creating sculpture pieces.

Ugo Rondinone - I Love John Giorno - gallery of 2014 - 2015 - 2016 is a human and honest project
Ugo Rondinone – I Love John Giorno

Early Life, Education And A Career Launch

Ugo Rondinone was born during the year of 1964, in Brunnen, a town in Switzerland. He was born to Italian parents and started showing signs of artistic tendencies from early on. In 1983, Ugo moved to Zurich in order to become the assistant to Hermann Nitsch, an Austrian artist who works in experimental and multimedia modes. This was Ugo’s first contact with professional art. Rondinone acquired his education by studying at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, where he graduated in 1990. His official career started in the 1990s, in a time he created a series of circular paintings that were simply titled using numbers and many critics thought they resembled Kenneth Noland’s target works. Soon he became the subject of international attention as his work started to expand and evolve. Technically speaking, Rondinone worked with different media, such as photography, video, sculpture, and drawing – and he also regularly used more or less familiar quotations from literature and popular culture, appropriately placing them where he saw fit. Ever since his early days as a professional artist, Rondinone has shown what type of pieces he likes creating – the ones that tempt the viewer into a meditative state, much alike the way aforementioned target-shaped paintings lure the audience into their brightly colored, concentric rings.

Besides installation pieces, Rondinone puts much effort into creating sculptures of different types

Ugo Rondinone - Moonrise Sculptures - gallery of 2014 - 2015 - 2016 is a human and honest project
Ugo Rondinone – Moonrise Sculptures

Analyzing His Work

To get a clearer picture of how Ugo works, let us give you an example – for his series titled I Don’t Live Here Anymore (1995), the artist digitally altered images of fashion models in erotic poses so that his facial features replaced those of the female subjects. Such humor is ever present in Ugo’s portfolio. During his career, Rondinone focused much attention on signage as well, exampled by such pieces as the rainbow-colored Hell, Yes!, a now-iconic sculpture that stood on the facade of the New Museum in New York. Another similar piece is the famous Our Magic Hour, or the Dog Days Are Over, a sign that was presented at Zurich’s Museum für Gegenwartskunst in 1996 and mystically proclaimed an end to a period of turmoil. Ugo has also dabbled in some more morbid artistic waters, like the time he created the installation Roundelay in 2003, a melancholic piece in which the focal point was the six video projection of a man and woman walking through the streets of Paris. The key to this piece was the music score authored by the composer Philip Glass which evoked a strong sense of alienation. Today, Ugo seems a bit more interested in sculpture then installations, creating some pretty extraordinary pieces of the medium. In 2013, he presented a piece titled Human Nature, a group of monumental stone figures in Rockefeller Center that resembled primitive robotic creatures created from the rocks of Stonehenge. However, the artist did not quit the installation craft, with his most recent piece titled Seven Magic Mountains (2016) and displayed alongside Interstate 15 just south of Las Vegas. Rondinone has held or was a part of numerous exhibitions organized at countless museums around the world. The most prestigious locations where he has displayed his work are the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla in Leon. It should also be noted that Ugo has represented Switzerland at the 52nd Venice Biennale during the year of 2002.

Many of Ugo Rondinone’s projects focus on signage pieces that were later placed in public spaces

Ugo Rondinone - Hell Yes - gallery of 2014 - 2015 - 2016 is a human and honest project
Ugo Rondinone – Hell Yes

Artistic Flexibility

As you could have seen for yourself, Ugo’s art has been constantly evolving and changing over the years. Such versatility and variety show us that the work of Rondinone has been undeniably chained to the development of his own personality and the different phases of life the artist went through at the time he created his pieces. Ultimately, it should be noted that Ugo simply is not capable of failing – no matter which goal he set for his art, he always managed to fulfill it. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he made us reflect, he made us believe. Not many artists are able of achieving such results.

The artist is represented by Robert Fontaine Gallery in Miami and Weng Contemporary in Zug.

Ugo Rondinone lives and works in New York, United States.

Featured Image: Ugo Rondinone – Photo of the artist, 2013 – Photo Credits The New York Times
All Images Photo Credits Ugo Rondinone

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2016becoming soilCarré d’Art-Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, FranceSolo
2016Seven Magic MountainsArt Prodcution Fund and Nevada Museum of Art, NevadaSolo
2016Vocabulary of SolitudeMuseum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, NetherlandsSolo
2016Human ScaleNational Gallery of Canada, OttawaGroup
2016On the Immense and the NumberlessDavid Risley Gallery, CopenhagenGroup
2016Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Collection from Shohaku and Rosanjin to Anselm KieferYokohama Museum of Art, JapanGroup
2015I Love John GiornoPalais de Tokyo, ParisSolo
2015clouds + mountains + waterfalls Sadie Coles HQ, LondonSolo
2015feelingsKukje Gallery, SeoulSolo
2015walls + windows + doorsGalerie Eva Presenhuber, ZurichSolo
2015Artists and PoetsWiener Secession, ViennaGroup
2015CloudsGalerie Krobath, ViennaSolo
2015About TreesZentrum Paul Klee, Bern, SwitzerlandGroup
2015Greater New YorkMoMA PS1, Long Island City, New YorkGroup
2015Museum of StonesNoguchi Museum, Long Island City, New YorkGroup
2015Une Brève Histoire de l’AvenirMusée du Louvre, ParisGroup
2015Lustwaranade 5Tilburg, NetherlandsGroup
2015Hôtel DunkerqueFrac Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Dunkerque, FranceGroup
2015SprayedGagosian Gallery, LondonGroup
2015TERRAPOLIS Ecole Francaise d’Athenes, AthensGroup
2014Ugo Rondinone - Naturaleza HumanaMuseo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli, Mexico CitySolo
2014Spaced Out: Migration To The InteriorRed Bull Studios, New York City, NYGroup
2014Cast From LifeSkarstedt Gallery - Skarstedt Fine Art, New York City, NYGroup
2014Optical MixACCA - Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, VICGroup
2014The Human FactorHayward Gallery, LondonGroup
2014PlatformAlmine Rech Gallery, BrusselsGroup
2014The Disappearance of the firefliesCollection Lambert, AvignonGroup
2014Still Life With WoodpeckerHalsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton, NYGroup
201419th Biennale of Sydney - You imagine what you desireBiennale of Sydney, Sydney, NSWGroup
2014Les Misérables - Post-Conceptual ArtDallas Contemporary, Dallas, TXGroup
2013Ugo Rondinone: we run through a desert on burning feet, all of us are glowing our faces look twistedThe Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, ILSolo
2013Ugo Rondinone - soulGladstone Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2013Ugo Rondinone - PrimalEsther Schipper, BerlinSolo
2013Ugo Rondinone - Human NaturePublic Art Fund, New York City, NYSolo
2013Pure MoonlightAlmine Rech Gallery, ParisSolo
2013The Weak Sex – How Art Pictures The New MaleKunstmuseum Bern, BernGroup
2013Somos LibresMATE (Asociación Mario Testino), LimaGroup
2013ReMap 4ReMap, AthensGroup
2013Lightness of BeingPublic Art Fund, New York City, NYGroup
2013Something about a TreeFLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NYGroup
2013Rhythm in itAargauer Kunsthaus, AarauGroup
2013The Hunter And The FactoryGaleria Jumex, Mexico CityGroup
2013The Time is NowJohn Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CAGroup
2013People and PortraitsThe Towner Art Gallery, EastbourneGroup
2013Give me fiveStädel Museum, FrankfurtGroup
2013From triple X to birdsong (In Search Of The Schizophrenic Quotient)Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2012Ugo Rondinone - primitiveThe Common Guild, Glasgow, ScotlandSolo
2012Ugo Rondinone - NudeMuseum of Cycladic Art, AthensSolo
2012Ugo Rondinone - wisdom? peace? blank? all of this?Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, ViennaSolo
2012Warming Up the HouseMuseum Bärengasse, ZurichGroup
2012Dark MatterDivision Gallery - Toronto, Toronto, ONGroup
2012Body LanguageCentre culturel Suisse, ParisGroup
2012Painting NowGalerie Eva Presenhuber, ZurichGroup
2012Glocal SessionsFRAC Poitou-Charentes - Angoulême, AngoulêmeGroup
2011Ugo Rondinone - we are poemsGladstone Gallery - Brussels, BelgiumSolo
2011Kiss Now Kill LaterGalerie Eva Presenhuber, ZurichSolo
2011Ugo Rondinone – outside my windowPeter Lund, OsloSolo
2011Known, Unknown, Anonymous and On Death RowQbox gallery, AthensGroup
2009Ugo Rondinone : Sunrise EastMusée du Louvre, ParisSolo
2009Ugo Rondinone - The Night of LeadMusac - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, LéonSolo
2008Twelve sunsets, twenty nine dawns, all in oneGalerie Eva Presenhuber, ZurichSolo
2007Ugo Rondinone: Big Mind SkyMatthew Marks Gallery - 523 West 24th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2007Big Mind SkyMatthew Marks Gallery - 522 West 22th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2007My endless numbered daysSadie Coles HQ, LondonSolo
2007Ugo Rondinone - zero built a nest in my navelWhitechapel Art Gallery, LondonSolo
2007Ugo Rondinone - Thank you SilenceMatthew Marks Gallery - 523 West 24th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2004Ugo Rondinone - Long Gone SoleMatthew Marks Gallery - 522 West 22th Street, New York City, NYSolo
2004Ugo Rondinone - Short nights, Long yearsLe Consortium, DijonSolo
2003Ugo Rondinone - Roundelay - Centre PompidouMusée National d´Art Moderne, ParisSolo
2003Ugo Rondinone - LessnessAlmine Rech Gallery, ParisSolo