The diverse works of Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone are unified by his use of natural materials to express his view of reality and of the relationship between nature and himself. In 1969, having graduated from the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts, he held his first solo exhibition. He is regarded as having been a leading figure in the Italian Arte Povera movement, as a result of his extensive use of materials in their natural state. However, the elements that feature most commonly in Penone’s work are the tree and the concept of time. Typically, his work takes time to reveal itself as he explores what happens to objects and materials over time. He will work into a tree to find certain growth rings that will allow a basic form to reveal itself to him. Although he is exhibited globally, most recently with a one-man show in the Gagosian Gallery in London, one of the most impressive collections of his works can be found in the Sculpture Garden of the Palace of Venaria Reale, a World Heritage site near Turin, where Penone has installed fourteen, stunning pieces. In addition to his own work he once taught at an institution of Fine Arts in Paris.
The diverse works of Italian sculptor Giuseppe Penone are unified by his use of natural materials to express his view of reality and of the relationship between nature and himself.
Born in the rural town of Garessio, Penone now works in a factory sized studio in Turin, full of materials – trees, marble, bronze - that will be shaped by him into his characteristically beautiful and thought-provoking pieces. In contrast to main studio, there is also a small side room where Penone works on tiny, delicate pieces that are integrated into his larger work, such as the acacia thorns that are individually attached to textured Korean-made paper. He will create a series of images based on the concept of "fingerprints" or "lips."
He studied at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts, Turin and in 1969, held his first solo exhibition. In the late 60s, he is regarded as having been a leading figure in the Italian "Arte Povera" movement as a result of his extensive use of materials, such as stone and trees, in their natural state.
The two elements that feature most commonly in Penone's work are the Tree and the concept of time. He says, "By carving a tree according to year prints, we will find the memory of the life imprinted in the tree, and its history." This search for the essence, for the "memory of life", characterizes his work and often, through his art, gives new life to old objects and materials. Penone's famous "Tree in a Tree" is a prime example of this skill.
In his work, Penone also looks at man's interaction with nature and has experimented with "human molding"; taking plaster casts of parts of his body and molding them in clay. In these works, he uses himself to access nature.
Penone is one of Italy's leading artists but his thoughtful and powerful work is also highly regarded internationally and pieces can be found in museums and galleries around the world. He has been the subject of major retrospective exhibitions in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Drawing Center in New York, the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Japan and the Château de Versailles in Paris. Most recently, he presented a one-man show at the Gagosian Gallery in London. A rich collection of his work can be seen in the Sculpture Garden of the Palace of Venaria Reale, a World Heritage site near Turin, where Penone has installed fourteen stunning pieces.
In addition to his own work, he once taught at an institution of Fine Arts in Paris, enthusiastically encouraging a younger generation to explore their creative vision.