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Penone Versailles

A homage to Nature in contemporary art

Monumental sculptures by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone offer a striking, subtle dialogue with the palace and park of Versailles, for summer 2013. Marble, bronze and plant materials are the media of choice for a harmonious response to the original setting, by Louis XIV’s gardener Le Nôtre.  

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Penone Versailles
© Photo Tadzio © Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès

Giuseppe Penone’s intervention at Versailles marks the close of an important phase in his work: a homage to one of the park’s great trees felled in the storm of 1999. Penone acquired the tree shortly afterwards: the wood was damaged, but the bark was magnificently intact. Based on casts taken from the original tree, Tra Scorza e scorza is a monumental bronze diptych of  two bark reliefs ‘embracing’ a living tree.

In a corpus of some twenty works, Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (b.1947) reveals the power of the natural world around us: the veins in a block of marble, the core of a tree, the smell of leaves, the purity of natural materials, magnified for greater visibility, exploring the essence of time and a form of memory beyond human ken.  

In the park at Versailles – a hymn to temporal power – Penone’s sculptures exalt the paradoxical power of the natural world which Le Nôtre sought to tame. Today, the trees and plantings ‘force us to labour continuously for their maintenance and preservation.’

The leading figure of Arte Povera dialogues with Le Nôtre’s work in a spirit of humility nonetheless, marking the 400th anniversary of the celebrated gardener’s birth.

The Versailles event consolidates the Foundation’s enthusiastic support for Giuseppe Penone and the spirit of his work, showcasing one of the leading figures in French and international contemporary art. The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès supported Penone’s 2009 solo exhibition at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, and the artist is a mentor for the Foundation’s programme of young artists-in- residence at the Hermès workshops.   

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Château de Versailles 

Place d'Armes - 78000 Versailles

from 06/11/2013 to 10/31/2013