What fascinates me about trees is their structure: the tree is a being that memorializes the feats of its existence in its very form. Similarly, our bodies could be considered the sum of the performance of our existence. The tree can be considered a metaphor for the work of a sculptor who fixes his actions in the material.
Gagosian London is pleased to present “Circling,” an exhibition of Giuseppe Penone’s monumental works Scrigno (Casket) (2007) and Sigillo (Seal) (2008).
In sculptures, drawings, photographs, and installations, Giuseppe Penone heightens the subtle levels of interplay between man, art, and nature. His work represents a poetic expansion of Arte Povera’s radical break with conventional media, and emphasizes the involuntary processes of respiration, growth, and aging that are shared by man and tree. During the late 1960s, in the forests near Garessio, Italy, he stunted the growth of trees with nails, metal wire, and an iron cast of his hand that gripped a living trunk, thus insinuating himself into the cycles of the natural landscape. In the early 1970s, he continued to harness the innate attributes of his body by drawing the patterns of his skin and casting his face in plaster. In To Reverse One’s Eyes (1970), he was photographed wearing mirrored contact lenses, positing vision as the precise point of separation between self and environment.
In each of the large-scale works that comprise the exhibition, an artistic gesture is crafted upon a natural foundation. Sigillo (Seal) (2008)—which was included in Penone's major installation at Château de Versailles in 2013—is a horizontal veined marble slab almost twenty meters in length. Across its mid-point, a solid cylinder of the same marble evokes the ancient Babylonian seals used to make impressions in clay, linking a man-made tool to the endless swirling pattern that was in fact produced by geological events over millions of years. Scrigno (Casket) (2007) is a patchwork mural of overlapping sections of weathered brown leather. Moving around a living tree, Penone hammered the leather against it to impress the bark’s natural pattern and texture onto every square inch. Across the center of this vast work, which measures approximately fifteen meters in width, lies a small tree cast in bronze, split open to reveal its rich resin interior. Engaging with and subtly intervening in the natural world so as to reimagine it, Penone finds ever new ways to harmonize elemental occurrences with his own artifice.
Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy. He lives and works in Paris and Turin. Public collections include Tate Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; MAXXI, Rome; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Recent solo exhibitions include Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004); Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan (2008); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, United Kingdom (2009); Musée des Arts Contemporains, Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2011); Documenta 13, Kassel (2012); "The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone," Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2012); “Penone Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France (2013); Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2013); and Madison Square Park, New York (2013–14). Penone co-represented Italy in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).
Rain of Light
One year after the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Jean Nouvel and Giuseppe Penone sat down with Alain Fleischer, Pepi Marchetti Franchi, and Hala Wardé to reflect on how the museum and Penone’s commissioned artworks for the space came to be.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Talks
Giuseppe Penone and Carlos Basualdo
Giuseppe Penone discusses his new monograph, The Inner Life of Forms, with the book’s editor Carlos Basualdo, senior curator of contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, at the Greene Space, New York. Hosted by art critic Deborah Solomon.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
Behind the Art
Ideas of Stone
In the small skiing village of Gstaad, among the towering mountains of the Swiss Alps, lies a surprising and ambitious exhibition of sculpture by Giuseppe Penone. Susan Ellicott tells the story of how this installation came to be.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.
Foglie di bronzo / Leaves of Bronze
September 12–November 9, 2019
January 30–March 23, 2018
Idee di Pietra
December 13, 2017–March 30, 2018
Extended through June 15, 2017
January 27–June 15, 2017