new-york

Giuseppe Penone

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

The idea that art’s illusions of life can confuse with the real thing has ancient roots: in the Pygmalion myth; in the story of Zeuxis’s painted grapes (mistakenly pecked at by birds); even in painting’s very beginnings, when to depict a hunted beast may have been something like actually catching one. Giuseppe Penone’s most striking sculpture revives the dream that the image is alive and even pushes it a little, mixing forms in bronze, say, with living trees. Deepening our psychic investment, a trace of the figure appears in many of his works, so that, while they lean on or even incorporate green nature, they end up in an in-between space where human life, vegetable life, and the historically cold media of art overlap.

Penone’s sculpture can fail by verging on kitsch, for although kitsch is sometimes vibrant in art, the kind determined by a chord of beneficent humanism is rarely so, and

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