A tree summarizes in an exemplary way the contrast between two forces: the force of gravity and the weight of life we are part of. The need and the search for balance, which exists in every living being to counteract the force of gravity, is evident in every step and in every small action of our lives. It is a river stone that appears amid the branches of a tree. —Giuseppe Penone
Gagosian is pleased to present “Idee di Pietra,” a special installation by Giuseppe Penone in the dramatic alpine landscape of Gstaad. Two large-scale bronze tree sculptures from the Idee di pietra [Ideas of stone] series have been installed on a hillside pasture above the main village, next to the Hotel Le Grand Chalet.
Idee di pietra – Olmo (2008) and Idee di pietra – Ciliegio (2011) were both exhibited in Penone’s dedicated exhibition at Château de Versailles in 2013. As the titles suggest, these unique sculptures are modeled after an elm tree [olmo] and a cherry tree [ciliegio]. Addressing concepts of gravity, balance, and scale, while merging the manmade and the organic, Penone often manipulates the innate elegance of trees by twisting, deconstructing, hollowing, and uprooting the organic figures. He also incorporates traces of fingerprints, nails, wires, carvings, or precariously placed boulders underscoring the artificiality of art and the effect of human interaction with the natural world.
Idee di Pietra engages the phenomenology of stone, its physical and aesthetic qualities in relation to the trees and the mountainous setting. The base of the crown of each tree cradles a large single boulder from Piedmont, Italy, held secure despite the spindly branches that bear them up. Penone selected additional rocks from a quarry in the nearby village of Lauenen, placing them about the lush meadow in which the sculptures stand, acknowledging the processes out of which the Alps themselves formed in geological history.
Throughout his 40-year career, Penone has employed natural materials and forms in an exploration of the contrasting and fundamental relationships between man and nature. A protagonist of Arte Povera—the artistic movement that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s, exploring the use of "poor" or commonplace materials as a political stance—Penone's distinctive oeuvre evolved in direct response to the forests near his natal village of Garessio, Italy: by recognizing, altering, recreating, and interacting with the natural cycles of the environment, he blurred the distinction between his physical self and the alterity of nature. In his sculptures, drawings, and installations, respiration, growth, aging and other such involuntary processes create a congruence between human and botanical life, giving form to their shared status as vital sculpture.
To coincide with the installation in Gstaad, Gagosian Geneva will present a selection of works by Penone from January 30–March 23, 2018.
Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio, Italy and currently lives and works in Paris and Turin, Italy. Recent institutional 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); “22 Opere a Versailles,” 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, Lausanne, 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).