Elevazione (2001)

Giuseppe Penone

The Artwork

The Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, 1947) created a work of art inspired by nature for Rotterdam’s cultural axis. The sculpture Elevazione is sited alongside the Westersingel near the Eendrachtsweg. It consists of a bronze tree trunk encircled by five living trees. The bronze cast and the trees have a symbiotic relationship.

Penone had the idea for the sculpture when he came across a fallen tree in the woods near Turin. The tree’s extremely long roots had grown above ground, so that the tree was not anchored in the ground. Penone has conserved the extraordinary form of this tree – a 9-metre high trunk with almost 6-mtre long roots – by casting it in bronze.

In Rotterdam Penone has combined this bronze copy of nature with five living trees: an existing beech and four new alders. The bronze tree is fixed at a height of more than one metre, floating above the ground. The ends of the bronze roots pass through the living trees. As the trees continue to grow the bronze will leave a trace in their bark. Time is an important factor in this art work: after several years the passage of time will be visible in the tree trunks.

Westersingel 95
9 x 5.5 x 5.6 m
Gemeente Rotterdam
Gemeente Rotterdam
Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone (Garessio, 1947) is the son of a farmer in the countryside near Turin. He has developed a close relationship with nature and many of his works are based on ecological processes.
Penone is associated with the Italian movement Arte Povera. Creation, metamorphosis and the passage of time are important concepts in his work. His sculptures refer to the mysteries of nature: flow, transformation, growth and erosion. Many of his works deal with the fleeting nature of man’s existence.In 1967 he began fusing natural and synthetic elements in order to influence the growth process. For example, his work La mano affronda nel tronco dell’albero (The Hand Fused with the Tree Trunk), executed in Piemonte in 1968, consists of a bronze hand gripping the trunk of a sapling. Over the years tree and the hand have become fused, illustrating man’s symbiotic relationship with nature. Around 1969 he began work on a series entitled Alberi (Trees), in which he exposed the original trees within wooden beams. He has also made casts using parts of his body. In 1972 he grew pumpkins inside a mould of his face, so that they took on the same form, and in 1978 he cast his own breath. Penone places great importance on the physical contact between the artist and his materials. He makes tangible things that are not tangible in reality.

Giuseppe Penone has always remained true to the methods and principles of Arte Povera. The sculpture he created for Rotterdam in 2001 relates to the same concept with which he began his career and illustrates his vision of sculpture: ‘A sculptor’s task is to reveal the latent image in nature.’

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