Monday, 31 December 2012

Not So Poor

With a stone stuck in a tree, Giuseppe Penone caused a minor sensation at this year's Kassel Documenta.

Idee Di Pietra (2012), bronze and stone, Karlsaue Park

As the youngest member of the 1960s Arte Povera movement (literally poor art), the Italian mostly used natural materials such as wood, and rebelled against the corporate mentality of the market.

Breathing Leaves, 1979

These days, the complex relationship between man, art and nature is still Penone's focal point. But the materials have become a little less poor. The tree for the Documenta, for example, was made out of bronze.

Penone's new installation Spazio di Luce (Space of Light), now on display at London's Whitechapel Gallery, is an 11-metre long cast of a tree covered with bronze and lined with gold.

Spazio di Luce (2012), 12-metre bronze cast of a tree, gold-leaf interior

But some of Arte Povera's original intention remains. As a way to support the publicly funded Whitechapel Gallery, a limited edition etching by Penone was offered for sale at the Frieze art fair Limited Editions stand. It sold out before the fair was over (just like last year's Wolfgang Tilmanns edition).

Luckily I was there to grab one. Afterwards, I felt rather poor.

Limited Edition - Spazio di Luce, 2012

As a final flirt between Ricchi e Poveri, the Château de Versailles has now announced that Penone will be its Guest of Honour this summer. After the somewhat bombastic shows by Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami (pics here and here), this collaboration promises to be both beautiful and organic.

Let them see Wood.

Sculture di Linfa (2007), marble, resin, bark, wood, leather

Down to Earth

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