The Hidden Life Within – Carving

Artist Giuseppe Penone does many things but one of the coolest things is his carvings in wood revealing the original sapling within the tree. He carefully removes the rings of growth by carving out the inside of a tree trunk and leaving the knots in place. Eventually the sapling emerges intact.

At work


Angie in comments asked if he uses a living tree for this work. I found these descriptions about his work: 

Penone uses simple materials from daily life to unsettle the boundaries between art and nature, and to point out the interdependence among all organic life forms.
Penone has carved out the wood to reveal its past, showing the tree that grew inside so that it may “live” in the present. Rather than imposing a form, the artist — in contrast to the architect of this space — draws out an existing form.
Inspired by the slow growth in the tranquility of the natural world, the artist invites us to stop a moment to stop and think about the concept of time and how there is a common life force in all living things.
I have not found a direct comment relating to whether he cuts trees down for his works but after reading about his philosophy, I would make a semi-educated guess and say that would go against his ethic. He isn't above interfering with a tree's natural growth as the following pictures show:

bronze hand embedded in tree

and another one

So, what do you think?

Guiseppe Penone


Angie said...

Please tell us he isn't killing trees to show us the beginning of the tree's life?

Tonya said...

That was cool.

Angie said...

What he's done with the cast of his hand will eventually undermine the tree, I think. Any tree that I've ever seen that has had outside material introduced into its growth, will typically weaken at the site.

Frimmy said...

I agree. When I looked further into his work and found the trees with the hands attached to them it was unsettling.

riddlywalker said...

...and I'd be willing to bet that you all wrote those remarks while sitting on a wooden chair...? That he reveals our relationship with time, and with nature as an active process rather than the fixed point- which is how most of us perceive it, is what is important here- how does our 'normal' time perception affect our relationship with the natural world?

Sam said...

A typical American house uses around 30,000 board feet of lumber. All the milled and carved surfaces, including turned items come from fresh lumber with a rectangular cross-section. It takes a truckload of dust and scraps to make something as common as a house out of a fair number of trees. I hardly think that one artist's revelation of the contents of tree trunks will endanger the world's trees in the same way that lumber, and paper, and furniture do on an industrial scale. In fact, it's safe to assume he has a deeper and more profound admiration for trees than most people, given that they're his craft.

Unknown said...

Well said! Bravo.


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