The Frick Collection presents a one-room installation by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone (b. 1947). Displayed at Frick Madison in the broader context of the museum’s decorative arts and Old Master paintings and sculpture, this unprecedented exhibition by the acclaimed Arte Povera artist is the first to feature his work in the medium of porcelain. Consisting of eleven disks created during a 2013 collaboration with the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory in France—works never before shown publicly—this project invites a dialogue with the Frick’s rich holdings in the medium. Penone’s series of disks is shown on the third floor in concert with a nearby gallery featuring eighteenth-century porcelains by several renowned manufactories. The exhibition is organized by Giulio Dalvit, the Frick’s Assistant Curator of Sculpture, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
The Frick’s porcelain holdings have increased dramatically in recent years through acquisitions of works from the Sèvres, Meissen, and Du Paquier manufactories. Correspondingly, the museum’s activities reflect this abiding focus through publications, programming, and exhibitions, including those with contemporary artists Arlene Shechet (2016–17) and Edmund de Waal (2019).
Giuseppe Penone created this remarkable group of porcelain disks as a continuation of his Propagazioni (Propagations) series in various media, begun in 1995. Made by hand, the disks involve a production process stretching over long periods of time and reward close and prolonged viewing. Each of ten white porcelain disks features the imprint of one of Penone’s fingers in black paint; the eleventh disk is a variation, rendered in gold. Thin lines extend concentrically from the fingerprint at the center of each disk, resembling the ripple effect in water or the rings that mark a tree’s annual growth. Propagazioni brings together a number of themes that run through the artist’s work, most importantly, his relationship to nature and the mutable definition of sculpture.
Giuseppe Penone is a key figure of Arte Povera, a seminal postwar art movement born in Italy in the 1960s that challenges the restraints of traditional art, especially in terms of materials. His works have been featured in solo exhibitions and installations at the Galleria degli Uffizi (2021), the Louvre Abu Dhabi (2017), the Rijksmuseum (2016), the Château de Versailles (2013), Madison Square Park in New York City (2013), and the Whitechapel Gallery in London (2013), among many other sites. In 2020, Penone made major gifts of works on paper to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to the Centre Pompidou, Paris. In the fall of 2022, both institutions will present comprehensive exhibitions of drawings and related sculptures by the artist.
Principal support for the exhibition is provided by Gagosian. Additional funding is generously provided by Agnes Gund, Jane Richards, Kathleen Feldstein, and an anonymous gift.