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Italian Artist Giuseppe Penone Creates a Bronze Tree

Although he does not consider himself as an eco-artist, he has used trees as his canvas right from the start of his career.

Story by Bonnie Alter - Source: http://www.treehugger.com

Photo ©David Parry

Giuseppe Penone is an Italian artist who loves trees. This latest work is on display at London’s Whitechapel Gallery.

Photo ©David Parry

It is 12 meters long, and made out of bronze. It is divided into sections which rest on the tree’s “branches”. Its interior is lined with gold-leaf which the artist interprets as the sun’s light. Hence the work’s title Spazio di Luce (Space of Light).

Photo ©Bonnie Alter

When you look inside it is like a golden telescope.

Photo ©Bonnie Alter

The artist spoke at the gallery. Looking like an ageing rock-star and speaking in halting english, he described how he found the original tree in a magic valley in Italy. It was already felled, and he had it transported and began to work hisaartistry on it.

He uses the age-old technique of cire perdu, lost-wax casting. The inside of the mould has the impression of the bark of the original tree. The outside bares the artist’s finger prints. In creating the sculpture the tree was destroyed and lives through the new piece of art.

 

Photo ©Whitechapel Gallery

Although he does not consider himself as an eco-artist, he has used trees as his canvas right from the start of his career. One of his first pieces, from 1968, which shot him to fame was “Maritime Alps: it will continue to grow except at this point”. It consisted of a sapling whose trunk was gripped by a steel hand. His revelation at that time, which has become the basis of his work, was:

“What I saw when I began was that the distinction between man and nature is false. Man is part of nature; it is our desire to conserve distinctions that has kept us separate.”

Photo ©Bonnie Alter

The work has a lovely synchronicity with the new frieze on the front of the gallery: a Tree of Life by the artist Rachel Whiteread.

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