UMOCA Presents “Gianni Pettena: Forgiven by Nature”

Contact: Sarina Ehrgott| | 801.328.4201 | 20 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2013


UMOCA Presents Gianni Pettena: Forgiven by Nature

Opening Reception July 5, 6-9 PM
Admission is Always Free.


Salt Lake City, UT ­– The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art is proud to present the first US museum survey of Italian artist and architect Gianni Pettena. Gianni Pettena: Forgiven by Nature is an immersive exhibition of Pettena’s artistic practice and architectural propositions. The span of work presented looks back at his early roots in the Italian Radical Architecture Movement in the late Sixties and early Seventies up to current productions from the past year.

The Radical Architecture Movement ushered in a new wave of imagining the role of the architect and the possibilities of the built environment. Responding to the ever-systematizing structures of Modernist Architecture from architects such as Le Corbusier and others preceding from that period, the Radical Architecture Movement denoted a critique that included utopian and often dystopian possibilities. From the beginning, Gianni Pettena’s practice aimed to better understand how architecture ultimately succumbs to the powers of nature and developed strategies that embraced such forces. In 1972, Pettena was invited by Bob Bliss to teach at the University of Utah. Traveling around Utah, Pettena encountered a landscape that represented the application of philosophies he was developing, and during this time he made his most iconic work: “The Salt Lake Trilogy” – a series that included Clay House, Tumbleweeds Catcher and Siege (A Red Line).

Gianni Pettena: Forgiven by Nature looks at how the artist has established his particular style, which engages with the landscape through tensions between man and nature. Early film, documentation, spatial interventions and archival materials make up the presentation at UMOCA. Pettena has also produced several on-site installations including Human Wall and Human Space as well as a new version of The Absence of Bodies (Laundry) (1969/2013). In the context of the Utah Biennial, a replica of his iconic Tumbleweeds Catcher sits as the centerpiece of the exhibition.

“Pettena is an important figurehead within the history of avant-garde architecture but especially in the context of Utah,” says Senior Curator Aaron Moulton. “As a cultural icon, his legacy is ripe for re-emergence in order to understand how he has physically shaped ideas of landscape. His practice has had an enduring impact internationally among artist and architecture communities and this exhibition is a homecoming to reflect on the work he did here in Salt Lake City as well as underline his importance within a discourse of radical architecture, which he helped pioneer and guide.”

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art would like to thank Enrico Fornello, Federico Luger, Marco Pace and most importantly Gianni Pettena for their work on this exhibition.


About the Artist

Together with Archizoom, Superstudio and UFO, Gianni Pettena belongs to the original nucleus of the Radical Architecture Movement in Italy. Born in 1940, he studied architecture at the University of Florence. In the Sixties, with other students such as Paolo Deganello, Andrea Branzi, Massimo Morozzi and Adolfo Natalini, he helped to create the climate that produced the “Radical” movement, which was the origin of much contemporary experimentation in the field of Italian architecture and design. The impact of his presence in America during the early Seventies was profound. He was a close friend of Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark. His work was shown at John Weber Gallery amongst his peers of the Land Art Movement. His work was presented in important exhibitions, museums and national and international institutions such as the Venice Biennale, Mori Museum in Tokyo, PAC in Milan, Barbican Center in London, Gamec in Bergamo, Pompidou Centre in Paris and Metz, Berlin Biennale, Italian Pavilion at the 2010 Shangai Expo.

The award-winning Utah Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits groundbreaking artwork by local, national, and international artists. Four gallery spaces provide an opportunity for the community to explore the contemporary cultural landscape through UMOCA’s exhibitions, films, events, classes, and presentations.

Founded in 1931, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has been recognized as Best Museum in the State of Utah for 2011, 2012 and 2013 and is a four-time recipient of funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Located at 20 S. West Temple; open Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free. For more information call (801) 328-4201 or visit