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 Giuseppe Penone  (1947 - )

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Lived/Active: Italy      Known for: tree subjects, assemblage-found objects, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Giuseppe Penone (born April 3, 1947) is an Italian artist.  Penone started working professionally in 1968 in the Garessio forest, near where he was born.  He is the younger member of the Italian movement named "Arte Povera", a term coined by Germano Celant.  Penone's work is concerned with establishing a contact between man and nature. He is still very active and produces lots of original works every year.

Giuseppe Penone was born in Garessio, in the province of Cuneo. He keeps a studio in Turin and teaches at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In the first of his numerous writings, Penone asked himself emblematically whether the earth could assimilate and express the human. Ever since, the artist has continued to question himself about the earth, understood as a universal substance. From his earliest works of the later 1960s to the present, Penone's output has been dominated by a concern for the phenomenas of nature... His most famous works are Alberi ("Trees").  The tree, a living organism, in appearance so closely resembling the human figure, is a central element in Penone's work. Many of the procedures he adopts in the creation of his works are based on the act of relating different entities and forces, hence on traces or memories of the contacts between them.

His sculptures, installations and drawings have always been distinguished by his radical choice of unconventional materials and use of processes that are an integral part of his work. Each work reaches completion through the assimilation of its actions to those of the natural elements and grows out of reflection that adhere closely to the concrete, visual, tactile and olfactory qualities of the materials, explored by the artistic ways that bring out their magical and fantastic groundwork.

In his first exhibition at the age of 21, a one-man show at the Deposito d'Arte Presente in Turin in 1968, he presented works made out of lead, iron, wax, pitch, wood, plaster and burlap. Two of them involved the natural action of the elements: Scala d'acqua ("Water Ladder"), in which molten pitch was sculpted with a jet of water, and Corda, pioggia, zinco. Corda, pioggia, sole (Rope, Rain, Sun), a structure in movement with its form was altered by weathering.

In December 1968 he performed a series of acts in a wood near his home, the region of the Maritime Alps.  In this work, titled Alpi Marittime, Penone intervened in the growth processes of a tree, whose form retained the memory of his gesture over time.  One of his acts involved the flow of the waters in a stream, the vital sap which gives strength to the tree and on which the artist draws constantly in his work, a vehicle of growth and proliferation.  He interlaced the stems of three saplings in Ho intrecciato tre alberi ("I Have Interwoven Three Trees") and uses nails to leave the imprint of his hand on the trunk of a tree and then affixed twenty-two pieces of lead to it, the number of his years, joining them up with zinc and copper wire.  In Albero/filo di zinco/rame ("Tree/Wire of Zinc/Copper), he enclosed the top of a tree in a net burdened by the weight of plants: With Crescendo innalzerà la rete ("Growing It Will Raise The Net), he pressed his body to a tree and marked on the trunk the points of contact with barbed wire: L'albero ricorderà il contatto ("The Tree Will Remember the Contact").

Penone has made bronze trees which have been erected in various public spaces. One example is the Pozzo di Münster ("Well of Münster") created for the 1987 edition of Sculpture Projects; on its trunk was the imprint of a hand that created a look out, which gushed water.

Since 1969 Giuseppe Penone has been one of the leading representatives of Arte Povera, the critical theory elaborated by Germano Celant starting from 1967 and based on the work of a number of Italian artists, principally Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Gilberto Zorio.  These artists have numerous points in common, above all the rejection of traditional artistic languages, the empirical and non-speculative character of their works, and the value they place on the anthropological dimension. The appearance of Penone in this group of artists coincided with the emergence in the critical elaborations of the "magical and wonder-arousing value of the natural elements". This was at a time when dialogue and debate with the coeval international avantgardes was becoming most intense, conducted through a series of group surveys in which Penone took part. These events included Konzeption-Conception at the Schloss Morsbroich in Leverkusen in 1969, conceptual art arte povera land art at the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna in Turin and Information at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1970.

Giuseppe Penone was invited to Art Biennale of Venice in 2007 for the new opening of the Padiglione Italiano.

Honours and awards
    •    2001 of the Rolf Schock Prize, Visual Arts.
[edit] References
    1.    ^ G. Celant, Arte Povera, Mazzotta, Milan 1969
    •    "Giuseppe Penone artist and art.". Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
    •    G. Celant, Arte Povera, Mazzotta, Milan 1969
    •    Catalog of Giuseppe Penone "Sculture du Linfa" - Biennale di Venezia, 2007


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