• winter moon

    • Ugo Rondinone eerie and mesmerizing piece winter moon, 2011 is a deeply personal meditation on time, history, and the transience of the human spirit. Part of an ongoing series embarked upon in 1996, winter moon is a hallmark of Rondinone creative practice, and as such, has been extensively exhibited to much critical acclaim. 


      The tree motif first appeared in Rodinone’s practice in 1989, shortly after his partner passed away after a long battle with HIV. During this time, he sought solitude and found redemption in long walks through nature. From this point onwards, nature and time became important dimensions in the artist’s practice and he looked at trees as symbols of mortality and the brevity of human life.

      "The casting of a 2000-year-old olive tree is a memoriam of condensed time. By casting an olive tree, the passing of time can be profoundly experienced – frozen in its ephemeral state. Time becomes a living abstraction, showing how the figure of an ancient olive tree is formed by the accumulation of time and the forces of air, water, wind, and fire." —Ugo Rondinone 

      Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in an Oak Forest, 1809-1810, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Photo credit bpk Bildagentur / Art Resource, New York
      Caspar David Friedrich, Abbey in an Oak Forest, 1809-1810, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin, Photo credit bpk Bildagentur / Art Resource, New York

      Rondinone embarked on this practice by first drawing black-and-white images of large, ghostly-looking trees, which he would later continue to explore in sculpture. Evocative of German Romanticist Caspar David Friedrich’s gothic forests and exploration of the sublime, Rondinone’s trees conjure an image of internal struggle and fortitude. winter moon, cast from a hundred-year-old olive tree from the artist’s ancestral home near Naples, is detached from its natural origin resulting in a transparent-white shimmering resin. Thus, the artist merges the work’s synthetic and seemingly immortal quality with the natural and temporal elements.


      Ugo Rondinone has directly referenced influences from the paintings of Samuel Palmer (1805 to 1881), a student of William Blake (1757 to 1827), to Casper David Friedrich (1774 - 1840) that show his continued exploration of German Romanticism. winter moon echoes the shifting from complete absorption in the natural world’s sublimity to the solitude of self-reflection, tensions that distinguish the Romantic mode. 
       

      Palmer, Samuel, Early Morning, 1825, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, Great Britain, HIP / Art Resource, New York
      Samuel Palmer, Early Morning, 1825, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, Great Britain, HIP / Art Resource, New York

      As it is exemplified in winter moon, the olive tree is a recurrent symbol throughout Rondinone’s oeuvre that he has consistently explored for nearly two decades. The tree thus links several thematic streams within Rondione’s practice. This work delves into the representation of nature as an allegory of the human condition in reverence to the romanticist views on life and art. 

      "what interests me about the 2000-year-old olive trees is the fact that once they are cast bare naked, they become a memoriam of condensed time. Through a cast olive tree, you can not only experience the lapse of real time that is lived time, frozen in its given form but through this transformation also a different calibrated temporality. Time can be experienced as a lived abstraction, where the shape is formed by this accumulation of time and wind force. If my work, in general, has a nonlinear approach to the world, then the system and concept of time, which has occupied my work since the beginning, gives me a certain sense of grounding." —Ugo Rondinone 

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  • The Melancholic

    • "The stone figure is the most archetypal representation of the human form; an elemental symbol of the human spirit, connected to the earth yet mythic in the imagination. The image of the figure belongs to nobody, is timeless, and universal." —Ugo Rondinone

      Towering over thirty-two feet, Ugo Rondinone’s the melancholic epitomizes the human condition. This work, hulking in essence, is overcome with an air of stillness. This gentle, looming, urban titan is eternally present to remind us of our endless potential of possibilities.

       

      Rondinone first embarked on his Human Nature series in 2013. In an exhibition organized by the New York Public Art Fund, nine stone figures stood in Rockefeller Center's plaza. These humanoid figures were aptly titled the quiet, the serene, and the satisfied (among others). They were roughly constructed out of Bluestone slabs haphazardly stacked on top of one another in a “Stonehenge” like formation. As with most of the artist’s public sculptures, the objective was a pure and uninhibited connection between the works, their environment, and most importantly – their viewers.

       

      View of Rockefeller Plaza, Ugo Rondinone, Human Nature, 2013, Photography by David Regen, courtesy of studio Rondinone

      "A public sculpture is a challenge, because it should reach as much of the public as possible, either by alienating people or embracing people… I like to embrace the public. The important point for me was to come in with something basic yet very developed, and to remind us of our basic values. I wanted to bring two forces together, the human figure and nature." 
      —Ugo Rondinone

       Throughout his career, Rondinone has explored a myriad of mediums and created a substantial body of work.  Comprising of such striking series as the mesmerizing Mandala paintings, the Moonrise and Sunrise series of large-scale humanoid countenances, and the monumental olive tree sculptures. the melancholic of the Human Nature series, while unique in medium, the execution and scale are consistent with the artist’s singular point of view and seem to fit within his oeuvre naturally. Rondinone manages to harness and juxtapose both the beauty of nature and the human spirit's full potential into this solitary artistic construct, pertinently titled the melancholic.

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  • sunrise. west. july

    • sunrise.west.july, 2004 is part of Ugo Rondinone’s remarkable sunrise.west series and was introduced by the artist in 2003. As part of a fundamental exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Münster in 2006, this work is influenced by the notion of time and the quest for knowledge, aspects that are inextricably connected in Rondinone's oeuvre. 


      Rooted in Rondinone’s longstanding interest in time, this work is closely linked to the natural cosmos and the earthly cycle. The annual calendar, commanded by the movement of the sun, is reflected in the title of the work. Each of the twelve sculptures of this series were made in homage to the sun, dedicated to a cardinal point, and named after a month of the calendar year, drawing attention to the cycle of life and the passage of time. 

       

      Not only does the sunrise.west.july echo Rondinone’s abiding fascination with time, but shows us visible traces of the artist's hand. By carefully modeling the sculpture's surface with his fingers, we see the texture of fingerprints and the artist's creative process, which gives the work a sense of intimacy. 
      "If my work in general has a nonlinear approach to the world, then the system and concept of time, which has occupied my work since the beginning, gives me a certain sense of grounding." —Ugo Rondinone The series was inspired by the shamanic Yupik masks worn by an Inuit population inhabitants of south-western Alaska. In the deep-rooted traditions of this ancient tribe, the masks are used in spiritual ceremonies celebrated with music and dance. Rondinone's masks project an enigmatic aura by stripping the face of its features and thereby removing them from their original context. This series, first modeled in clay and then cast in aluminum, challenged the artist to later develop the series into monumental sculptures with magnificent results.

       

      sunrise.west.july is an ambiguous but inviting and playful example of Rondinone’s striking creation of the sunrise masks. The work is a showcase of Rondinone’s intimate working practice and presents us with substantive elements linked to the artist’s concern with time and aesthetical appearances emblematic of the artist’s tangible personal stamp. 

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