The tree is a solid, living being that can be shaped. But you can also find the shape of the tree within it – Giuseppe Penone
Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Squared Colosseum, inagurates its first contemporary art exhibition since it has been turned by Fendi into an artistic venue and the maison’s official HQ, featuring an ambitious solo show of Giuseppe Penone. The Italian arte povera master takes over the ground floor of the monumental Palazzo with jutting trees and site specific installations that challenge the cold and sharp geometry of the building’s Fascist architecture. Curated by Massimilano Gioni, Artistic director of the New Museum in New York and of Fondazione Trussardi in Milan among others, the show includes 15 works ranging from masterpieces of the likes of Matrice, a 30mt-long horizontal fir tree trunk realized in 2015, Spine d’acacia, Soffio di Foglie and Ripetere il Bosco, and series of works that have never been shown in Italy like the Foglie di Pietra sculptures, which consist in marble blocks carved into capitals and columns placed on spiraling trees and branches. Aware of the building historical past, Penone softens its strong rhetorical meaning by offering a peaceful meditation on the relationship between time and nature, the eternity of history and the fleeting existence of the individual, and establishes a dialogue with Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysics, relating to the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana as a suspended space that is in some way abstract compared to reality.