close close
previous project
previous project

Giuseppe Penone at the Beaux-Arts, Paris

Matrice de sève: a monumental installation

A leading exponent of Arte Povera, Giuseppe Penone explores the relationship between the body and Nature. In the renovated atrium of the École des Beaux-Arts, a majestic pine tree furthers his quest for the origin of things.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Giuseppe Penone at the Beaux-Arts, Paris
© Béatrice Hatala

Giuseppe Penone's Matrice de sève ("Matrix of sap") marked the restoration of the glass-roofed court at Paris's École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, by artisans in a range of disciplines. Penone – a teacher at the Beaux-Arts since 1997 – sees trees as a sculptural archetype. Sawn in half down its length, the pine's sections lie open like the pages of a book.

The tree grows in strata, retaining the imprint of its earlier forms. Penone's hollowed-out trunk is a channel exposing 80 years of its life, flowing with fragrant pine resin representing the fundamental principles of creation, the union of male and female.

Extending for 40 metres across the atrium floor, the tree rests on a carpet of stitched leather skins, like mortal remains, highlighting the interconnectedness of the vegetable, organic and mineral worlds.

This sensual, poetic work explores creation myths, the fiction of origins. Partly created in situ with Beaux-Arts students, the exhibition also featured preparatory sketches in the school's Cabinet Jean Bonna.

The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supported this inaugural installation in the atrium of the Beaux-Arts, the first of a series by teachers at the school, and leading artists from around the world.

next project
next project