Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guiseppe Penone: The Artist's Hand and Nature

There's a modern Italian art movements established in the 1960s known as "Arte Povera." The translation is "poor art." It represented a radical response to corporate and government mentality in art.

Instead of the acceptable and conventional styles and materials, these artists resisted the technical, mechanized world by creating works with unconventional materials - often using found objects. They made their art statements by combining the natural with the artificial demonstrating how commercialism is overwhelming nature.

 A successful artist, who creates in the Arte Povera style, is Guiseppe Penone(1947-). Penone grew up in a small village near the Alps. The area around his village was wooded and the blend of nature with humanity were a constant presence. This combination, plus a father who was a sculptor, led Penone to the major theme of his art. It was in the trees likeness to the human form that spoke to him and informed his sculptures.

 Here is an example of how Penone creates. He hollowed out a fallen log showing the small tree of the past and titled the piece "The Hidden Life Within" (2008). “My artwork shows, with the language of sculpture, the essence of matter and tries to reveal with the work, the hidden life within.” –Giuseppe Penone

The above piece is titled, "Elevations" (2001) Bronze, Beech tree, 4 Alders. As the trees grow, the bronze roots will incorporate as part of each tree and mark the passage of time.

Above is "Space of Light" (2012) Bronze, Gold Leaf. The bark bears the imprint of many hands showing the connection of humans and nature. The interior of gold illuminates the life-giving properties of light.

Penone has worked with other nature-provided materials. Below is a piece in the series "Spine of Acacia" (2001) consisting of marble and acacia thorns.

The sculptor's Arte Provera works have been shown in museums, galleries and in natural settings all over the world. Have you ever seen his works? What are your thoughts about his approach to describing our interaction with nature?


  1. He's really a man of passion. It shows in his sculptures. Thanks for introducing me to his works. Lana

  2. Very cool. Loved the images and the appreciate the knowledge.

  3. WOW! Thanks so much for sharing this artist and ideas.

  4. Wonderful, Atencio! I've seen the tree inside a tree piece. What an amazingly insightful and inspiring artist! Roka

  5. I loved knowing of his work - Susan