“It was like a secret meeting. Before stopping at the choice of Giuseppe Penone as contemporary artist who would compete in Versailles in 2013, I had to meet him where he works in Turin. I had the opportunity to talk with him, in a sunny day in Provence. I had long been fascinated by this small and yet so proud manner to sculpt time, to reveal inanimate materials – tree rings, marble veins, wrinkles water – and to go back in, without interruption.
And there I was, in a gray autumn day in the middle of a huge also gray workshop, to which only bronze was giving some color, to talk about his art and Versailles. Giuseppe Penone showed his work with an economy of words and gestures contrasted with its intensity. Of course, there were the trees, that he “reveals” living and fragile, which instead seemed natural in the gardens of Versailles on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the birth of Le Nôtre.
Of course, there was the link that Giuseppe Penone has with Versailles since he carved two cedars felled by the great storm of 1999, continuing the idea of his youth that “the tree is reborn inside the tree.” But there was much more as he said he did not want to confront Versailles. He did not consider the invitation I made him as a “competition”. We talked about natural that should prevail in the gesture that would mark its presence at Versailles. Yes, strength, and grandeur, and elegance…These words are from Versailles and going so well for Penone.” Catherine Pégard