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This Week In Art: Palazzo Fendi In Rome Is About To Get Artsy

Get acquainted with "Foglie di Pietra", the first-ever permanent street sculpture in Rome's history, just a stone's throw away from Palazzo Fendi. (And yes, we're in Rome!)

Rome could possibly be one of the most beautiful places in the world where history, architecture and romance collide, and when you have such a good thing, you have to protect it and nourish it. Continuing our mini world tour, this week sees us setting foot for the first time onto the fabled streets and back alleys of Rome to get up-close and personal with Fendi’s latest undertaking – the exhibition Matrice featuring sculptures by Italian artist Giuseppe Penone.

These aren’t your run-by-the-mill sculptures. Sit down, because you’re about to get schooled. Penone is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most original sculptors of our time, being the only Italian artist to ever show solo at the Versailles. If you were there in 2013 and saw a towering inverted, leafless tree in the chateau’s gardens, that’s Penone.

The artist favours trees in his work, relating to their ability to be both steadfast and fluid throughout their lifetimes. There’s a rather romantic and mystical aspect about it. He then mixes in unexpected elements to tell a larger story: bronze, marble, leather and wax. In Matrice, now running at Fendi’s headquarters at Palazzo della Civilità Italiana, fifteen works are featured, all of which look as though they’ve been plucked out of a twisted, dark fairy tale.

There’s also another thing that makes the collaboration between Penone and Fendi so special and this one is for the history books. Following the restoration of the colossal Trevi Fountain, Fendi’s next gift to the eternal city is its first-ever permanent contemporary art installation on the streets. Taking root – hah, tree puns! – just opposite Palazzo Fendi, Penone’s Foglie di Pietra (Leaves of Stone) comprises two interlocking bronze trees holding up a sculpted marble block of 11 tonnes. A tale of archaeology, ancient ruins, nature and culture, the towering sculpture may possibly be Penone’s most complex yet.

The installation of Foglie di Pietra into historical Rome is almost like the story of the city itself – steadfast yet changing, like Penone’s trees. With Foglie di Pietra now joining the Roman landscape, Fendi adds yet another page into Rome’s rich history. If you find yourself in Rome in the near or distant future, don’t forget to stroll by Palazzo Fendi to witness the history-making sculpture for yourself.

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