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Propagation (Germination series)

Giuseppe Penone

Germination by the Italian artist Giuseppe Penone is a series of four works that enter into dialogue with the architecture of the museum and its collections to explore the links between humanity, art and nature. The imprint of a human hand is the starting point for germinations that take the shape of a tree, an anthropomorphic vase, handfuls of earth and a line of propagation continuing to infinity. Symbolising the vital movement of birth, this work accompanies the blossoming of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Born in 1947, Giuseppe Penone was a member of the Arte Povera (“Poor Art”) movement in the late 1960s. With Jannis Kounellis, Giovanni Anselmo and Michelangelo Pistoletto, he championed a return to humble materials as a reaction against consumerism. In addition to a rich classical culture, he also draws on Celtic and Eastern sources and explores the links between the worlds of plants and animals, using his own body as a tool to apprehend nature on the human scale. Highlighting analogies between mankind and nature, he lays bare the invisible mysteries of life and the work of art in gestation. It is precisely this vital and creative relationship that he explores in Germination.

Transposed life-size on a wall of porcelain, this fingerprint serves as the starting point for lines that spread out in centrifugal waves. The skin, whose papillary ridges and folds are visible, responds to these circular lines, drawn free-hand, which suggest the rings in the trunk of a felled tree. The thumbprint is that of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who founded the federation of the United Arab Emirates and was its leader from its creation on 2 December 1971 until his demise in 2004. The germination of a line into an expanding wave reflects how infinite space can result from a simple action.

Artwork Details

Artist: Giuseppe Penone
Title: Propagation (Germination series)
Geography: Cité de la céramique, Sèvres and Limoges, France
Date: 2016

Medium: drawing on porcelain tiles

Classification: installation
Dimensions: 3.6 x 4.2 m
Contact for images: [email protected]

Permalink: www.louvreabudhabi.ae/en/explore/highlights-of-the-collection/propagation

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