Un albero di sei metri
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Un Albero di sei metri' means “a tree of six metres”. The Italian artist Guiseppe Penone used a long wooden beam for this work, showing the annual rings of the original tree at the ends. From the bottom he followed a particular annular ring to the top, by removing the wood from later annular rings. Side branches which appeared were left in place. Through this process, the work that was created is still a bar on one side, but on the other side the natural form of a tree is exposed. The work is presented diagonally against the wall, preferably in combination with other trees by Penone.
Nature plays an important role in Penone’s work, in which he reveals processes such as growth and change. Sometimes he intervenes in the natural growth process of a tree, for example, by wrapping the trunk up with wire or by attaching a cast of his hand to it. In the course of time, the trunk and the addition grow together. In 'Un Albero di sei metri' Penone draws attention to the growth process by reversing it: by removing the annular rings he goes back in time in some way and an earlier growth stage of the tree appears in the beam. In this work, nature and culture are inextricably linked in the form of the tree and the beam. Penone comes from Garessio, a place in Italy where the farming population has strong links with nature. The farmer depends on nature, but also influences it with his activities and a respectful relationship between man and nature is in the interests of both. This interrelationship is expressed in Penone’s work. His “alberi” are good examples both of natural energy and of human labour. For Penone the process of peeling away is the real work of art. Western society has become increasingly materialistic in its aim for progress and there is little attention left for nature.
In the late 1960s many artists felt the need to reverse this process. New anti-materialist art forms such as land art and performance art were introduced. In Italy, Arte Povera made an appearance. Its representatives, including Penone, respected tradition and attention for nature.
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