Explore the Donum Catalog

Ugo Rondinone, Born 1963, Switzerland

nuns + monks, 2020

Stones have been a presence and recurring material and symbol in Ugo Rondinoneʼs art. They are the subjects of the stone figures that he began with the monumental Human Nature installation at the Rockefeller Plaza in 2013, followed by Seven Magic Mountains in the Nevada Desert in 2016. Both groups are the study and enjoyment of naturally formed stones as objects of beauty and contemplation, and in turn generate personal, meditative states of looking in which the boundaries between the outside world and internally visualized spaces break down. In doing so, Rondinone makes sculptures of what it means and feels like to see, whether this is understood to be a physical or metaphysical phenomenon.

nuns + monks will continue to address the dual reflection between the inner self and the natural world. Just as the external world one sees is inseparable from the internal structures of oneself, nuns + monks allows such layers of signification to come in and out of focus, prompting the viewer to revel in the pure sensory experience of color, form, and mass while simultaneously engender in an altogether contemporary version of the sublime.


The Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, based in New York, emerged as an artist in the 1990s. His oeuvre ranges from painting, video and photography, to sculpture and major installations. In his practice, he uses symbolic images such as clouds, animals, and figures, as well as Pop references and cultural cliches (e.g., “Hell, Yes!” (2001)), usually depicting them in his signature rainbow-hued colors. By combining the language of advertising and psychedelia, Rondinone expresses his profound interest in contemplating everyday life. The artist is best known for his large-scale land art sculpture, “Seven Magic Mountains” (2016-2021) in Nevada Desert, with its seven fluorescent-colored boulder totems stacked 30 to 35 feet tall. In his sculptures, the artist often transforms ordinary objects by casting them in bronze and thus giving them an artificial permanence (which is also the case for “nuns + monks”). His art has been exhibited around the world, and in 2007, the artist represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale.