Giuseppe Penone, Idee di pietra – Olmo, 2008, bronze and stone, 342 1/2 × 106 5/16 × 66 15/16 inches (8.7 × 2.7 × 1.7 m), installation view in Gstaad, Switzerland, 2017. Artwork © Giuseppe Penone. Photo by Marcus Veith.
In a monumental oeuvre spanning more than forty years, Giuseppe Penone has explored and expanded our understanding of what constitutes sculpture through the interplay between the human body, nature, and art. His work represents a poetic expansion of Post-Minimalism’s, and specifically, Arte Povera’s radical break with conventional media, emphasizing the transformative logic involved in the processes of respiration, growth, and aging that are common to all living beings. In the early 1970s, Penone continued to work with his own body by transcribing the textures of his skin and casting his face in plaster. Engaging with, and subtly intervening in nature so as to reimagine it in artificial terms, Penone finds ever new ways to mark the persistence of biological life, harmonizing elemental occurrences in terms of his own artistic drive. In each work, he reveals the innate sculptural qualities of natural materials, chiseling marble and casting from nature to expose the deep patterns of growth and time.
Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy. He graduated from the Accademia di Belle Arti, Italy, in 1970. Penone’s work has been included in several solo and group exhibitions. Recent solo exhibitions include “Retrospective Exhibition 1968–2004,” Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004, traveled to CaixaForum, Barcelona); Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, Italy (2008); Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Japan (2009); Musée des Arts Contemporains du Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2010); “Drawings and Sculptures,” Fondation De Pont, the Netherlands (2010); “The Hidden Life Within,” Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2011); Centre d'arts et de nature, Parc du Château, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, France (2012); “Entre les lignes,” Chapelle du Méjan, France (2013); Château de Versailles, France (2013); Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2013); “Ideas of Stone (Idee di Pietra),” Madison Square Park, New York (2013–14); “Breath Is A Sculpture,” Beirut Art Center, Lebanon (2014); “Prospettiva Vegetale,” Forte di Belvedere and Giardino di Boboli, Florence (2014); Musée Grenoble, Paris (2014); “Being the River, Repeating the Forest,” Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2015); “Regards croisés,” Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Switzerland (2016); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2016); “Sculpture,” Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy (2016); “Anafora,” Reggia di Venaria Reale, Italy (2016); and “Matrice / Matrix,” Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, Rome (2017).
Penone co-represented Italy in the 52nd Biennale di Venezia in 2007. He was awarded the Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association in 2014, and the McKim Medal by the American Academy in Rome in 2017. A permanent sculptural installation, titled “Germination,” will be presented at the Louvre Abu Dhabi this year.
Penone currently lives and works in Paris and Turin, Italy.