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b. 1964, Switzerland

Ugo Rondinone Biography

Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone is now based in New York. He rose to international acclaim in the early 1990s with highly varied work, the result of refusing to commit to any specific style. He produces paintings, drawings, sculpture (large and small), photography, video, and sound and installation art. He is also a poet, collector and curator.

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Rondinone strives to make works that meditate on everyday life and the world and particularly reflect on the theme of time, blurring the distinction between the real and artificial. He avoids producing art that is densely intellectual. In a conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2014, Ugo Rondinone claims to work with ‘very basic raw symbols, something that everyone can relate to, from a child to an old person, from the East to the West.’ The emphasis is on creating engagement through experiencing the work first, rather than a conceptual understanding.

The rainbow is one of the most common motifs in Ugo Rondinone’s artwork. From 1997, he began producing lit signs composed of large words—simple poetic titles and phrases—supported high in the air and following the form and colours of the rainbow. At once beautiful and fantastical, the rainbow is also an easily understood LGBT symbol, signifying the freedom to love whom one wants. For Rondinone, this symbol is especially important; he is the longtime partner of famed New York writer, poet and performer, John Giorno.

Ugo Rondinone’s use of Day-Glo rainbow colours extends into many other works. One key sculptural motif involves stacking brightly coloured rocks, seen on its grandest scale with his Seven Magic Mountains work in Nevada (11 May 2016–2018). These towers of rough-cut boulders are painted in highly artificial Day-Glo rainbow hues, as well as in black, white and silver. In a press release for the installation, Rondinone stated that he sees this combination of artificial colour and natural rock formations as a continuum ‘between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now.’

Not all of Rondinone’s art involves bright colour though. Another motif consists of simple primitive figures, composed of roughly hewn stone blocks evocative of Stonehenge. Another still is of mask-like sculptures inspired by indigenous Alaskan Yup’ik masks: aluminium casts made from clay moulds, painted in a single dull colour. Another, yet again in aluminium, is the cast of ghostly olive trees, coated in white enamel. 

Within the gallery context, Rondinone is most known for creating multimedia installations. He designs exhibitions that generate a holistic experience. Through meticulous planning—such as working with miniature models—he sets up relations between different works, enhancing them through the layout, colour scheme and architecture of the space itself. In these installations, he brings together different motifs developed over his career in varied configurations to generate different meanings. For example, Ugo Rondinone’s lacklustre clown, which appears passively in live-action, video and life-size sculptures, might sit amid his hypnotic, blurred target paintings, floating mandalas or wall paintings made of brick planes coated in single, vivid, Day-Glo colours.

Straddling the divide between gallery and public art, Ugo Rondinone’s art has been exhibited at major art institutions in the United States, Europe and China as well as at the 56th Venice Biennale, at the same time producing large-scale works for exhibitions in public spaces. 

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2017

Ugo Rondinone Featured Artworks

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the quick by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe quick, 2019Bluestone, stainless steel, concrete
165.1 x 53.3 x 53.3 cm
Esther Schipper Enquire about this work
the precise by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe precise, 2019Bluestone, stainless steel, concrete
165.1 x 53.3 x 53.3 cm
Esther Schipper Enquire about this work
silver blue mountain by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonesilver blue mountain, 2015Painted stone, stainless steel, pedestal
160.5 x 70 x 42 cm
Sadie Coles HQ Enquire about this work
yellow orange red mountain by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinoneyellow orange red mountain, 2015Painted stone, stainless steel, pedestal
177.5 x 50 x 50 cm
Sadie Coles HQ Enquire about this work
the supercell by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonethe supercell, 2016Bronze
13.5 x 25 cm
Kukje Gallery Enquire about this work
Siebteraugustzweitausendundvierzehn by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo RondinoneSiebteraugustzweitausendundvierzehn, 2014Acrylic on canvas
80 x 80 cm
Almine Rech Enquire about this work
still.life. (clay nude) by Ugo Rondinone contemporary artwork
Ugo Rondinonestill.life. (clay nude), 2012Cast bronze, lead, paint,
24.2 x 19.5 x 23 cm
Almine Rech Enquire about this work

Ugo Rondinone Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Ugo Rondinone, earthing at Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Closed
16 May–14 July 2019 Ugo Rondinone earthing Kukje Gallery, Seoul
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Flora + Fauna at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
4–27 April 2019 Group Exhibition Flora + Fauna Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Nudes at Sadie Coles HQ, London
Closed
11 April–26 May 2018 Group Exhibition Nudes Sadie Coles HQ, Davies Street

Ugo Rondinone Represented By

Ugo Rondinone In Ocula Magazine

Ugo Rondinone Ocula Conversation Ugo Rondinone By Sam Gaskin, Shanghai

Swiss-born artist Ugo Rondinone entered Shanghai’s Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) like a human prism, shattering the usual museum wall white into the full spectrum of visible color. His solo exhibition, Breathe, Walk, Die, includes concentric circles of blurred colors, plastic filters placed over the museum’s windows to colorize the...

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Ugo Rondinone In Related Press

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Send in the clowns: Ugo Rondinone at the Bass Related Press Send in the clowns: Ugo Rondinone at the Bass 7 December 2017, The Art Newspaper

Visitors to last year's edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach no doubt remember seeing Ugo Rondinone's Miami Mountain, the Swiss artist's permanent installation for the Bass. The piece, a 41ft totem made of neon limestone boulders, was installed in front of the museum in Collins Park. At the time, the Bass was closed for a $12m renovation to...

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Miami Beach’s Bass Museum Cranks It Up After Renovation Related Press Miami Beach’s Bass Museum Cranks It Up After Renovation 10 November 2017, Hyperallergic

Throngs of excited visitors came out earlier this month to the newly reopened Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach, a project nearly three years in the making. Families were everywhere, gleefully uncovering what the team at Bass had done after two years of construction and a year of planning and fundraising. Put simply, it was free and the halls were...

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Ugo Rondinone 'I ♥ John Giorno' at Various venues, New York Related Press Ugo Rondinone 'I ♥ John Giorno' at Various venues, New York 27 July 2017, Mousse Magazine

Ugo Rondinone: I ♥ John Giorno —the first major U.S. exhibition about the American poet, artist, activist and muse John Giorno—has opened simultaneously across 13 locations in New York City. I ♥ John Giorno is a work of art by Giorno's husband, the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The exhibition is a celebration of the life and work of...

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John Giorno Related Press John Giorno 25 July 2017, artforum.com

I learned early on from the eats, such as Allen Ginsburg and William Burroughs—and the Pop artists too—that archives were very important. This was around the late 1950s, or the beginning of the '60s. So, I just saved all of my work. My parents had a house in Roslyn Heights, Long Island, and for fifty years I brought everything I made...

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