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Gina Pane

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Gina Pane

Gina Pane
Born (1939-05-24)24 May 1939
Biarritz, France
Died 5 March 1990(1990-03-05)
Paris, France
Nationality French

Gina Pane (Biarritz, May 24, 1939 – Paris, March 5, 1990)[1] was a French artist of Italian origins. She studied and was awarded a prize by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1961 to 1966 and was one of the founders of the 1970s Body Art movement in France, called "Art corporel".

Parallel to her art, Pane taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Mans from 1975 to 1990 and ran an atelier dedicated to performance art at the Centre Pompidou from 1978 to 1979 at the request of Pontus Hulten.

Pane is possibly best known for her performance piece The Conditioning (1973), in which she is laid on a metal bedframe over an area of burning candles. The Conditioning was recreated by Marina Abramović as part of her Seven Easy Pieces (2005) at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, in New York in 2005.

Gina Pane's estate is managed by her former partner Anne Marchand. She is represented by Galerie Kamel Mennour in Paris.


Born in Biarritz to an Italian father and an Austrian mother, Pane passed part of her life in Italy. She returned to France to study in the painting and lithography department at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1961-1966. She died prematurely in 1990 following a long illness.

Gina Pane is best known as one of the few female body artists of the 1970s to use her body in her work in extreme ways, such as making small incisions in her flesh with a razor blade, lying on a metal bed over burning candles and stamping out small fires with her bare hands and feet. The often shocking nature of these performances — or "actions", as she preferred to call them — tended to overshadow Pane's work of the preceding and following decades, when she produced works using sculpture and/or photography prolifically. Throughout her career, however, the body — in either literal or conceptual form — was her main concern.[2]

Pane claimed that she was greatly influenced by political protests in Paris in May 1968, and by such international conflicts as the Vietnam War (Ferrer 1989, pp. 37–8). In Nourriture-actualités télévisées-feu (1971; repr. Pluchart 1971) she force-fed herself and spat back up 600 grammes of raw ground meat, watched the nightly news on television as she stared past a nearly blinding light bulb, and extinguished flames with her bare hands and feet. After the performance, she said, people reported a heightened sensitivity. "Everyone there remarked: 'It's strange, we never felt or heard the news before. There's actually a war going on in Vietnam, unemployment everywhere'" (Stephano 1973, p. 22)[3]


From 1962-1967 Pane produced geometric abstraction and created a number of metal sculptures by bending sheets of metal into simple shapes, the structures and her use of primary colours being reminiscent of minimal art. From her academic training, however, Pane developed an interest in the human body and turned to making sculpture and installation. This work considered the relationship between the body and nature. In 1968, Pane began making minutely prepared and documented actions in which each gesture was imbued with a ritual dimension.

Pane distinguishes three periods of her artistic evolution:

• 1968-1971: Placing the body in nature. Works include "Displaced Stones" (1968), "Protected Earth" (1968-1970), and "Enfoncement d'un rayon de soleil" (1969). In "Unanaestheticized Climb" (1971) she climbed, barefoot, a ladder with rungs studded with sharp metal protrusions. Her use, on this and other occasions, of self-inflicted injury was intended to bring real experience (through empathy with her discomfort) into the viewer’s appreciation of her art. Often these actions and installations took place in private.

• 1970-late 1970s: The active body in public. Pane considered space and time to be the material for these works. All that remains of these works are photographic documentation of carefully chosen moments and the performative object. These actions constitute a research into another language. They seek to transform the individual through willed communication with the Other. This work rejects aestheticism in order to produce a new image of beauty. In 1973 at the Galerie Diagramma in Milan, Pane executed "Sentimental Action" before an audience, the first row of which was exclusively female. Pane twice repeated an action twice, the first time with a bouquet of red roses, and the second time with a bouquet of white roses. Passing progressively from standing to the fetal position, she executed first a back-and-forth movement with the bouquet, before pressing the thorns of a rose into her arms and making an incision with a razor blade on the palm of her hand. The form of the wounds on her arm resembled the petals and stem of a rose. She described this work as a ‘projection of an intra space’ that dealt with the mother–child relationship.[4]

• Late 1970s-onward: Relationship of the body to the world. For the installation series "Action Notation" she mixed photographs of her previous wounds with objects, such as toys, glass, etc., from her previous actions. The process was controversial since it almost always involved an element of masochism: climbing up a ladder studded with razor blades, cutting her tongue or her ear, sticking nails into her forearm, smashing through a glass door, ingesting food to the point of nausea. Pane no longer based her approach on direct bodily experience, although the body remained pivotal and retained its symbolic significance through figures (cross, rectangle, circle) and materials (burnt or rusty metal, glass or copper).


Lucy Lippard: ‘The Pains and Pleasures of Rebirth: Women’s Body Art’, A. America (1976)

Polar Crossing (exh. cat., Los Angeles, CA, ICA; San Francisco, CA, A. Inst. Gals; 1978)

Gina Pane: Travail d’action (exh. cat., Paris, Gal. Isy Brachot, 1980)

Pluchart, François: L'Art corporel, Éd. Limage 2, Paris, 1983

Gina Pane: Partitions et dessins (exh. cat., Paris, Gal. Isy Brachot, 1983–4) [with bibliog.]

Écritures dans la peinture, exhibition catalogue, Villa Arson – Centre national des arts plastiques, Nice, 1984.

Vergine, L./Manganelli, G.: Gina Pane Partitions, Mazzotta, Milan, 1985.

G. Verzotti: ‘Richard Long, Salvatore Scarpitta, Gina Pane’, Flash A., 117, 1986.

Gina Pane, exhibition catalogue, Gal. Brachot, Brussels, 1988.

Gina Pane, exhibition catalogue, musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy, 2002.

Gina Pane (exh. cat., ed. C. Collier and S. Foster; Southampton, U. Southampton, Hansard Gal.; Bristol, Arnolfini Gal.; 2002.

Fréruchet, Maurice, et al.: Les Années soixante-dix: l'art en cause, exhibition catalogue, Capc musée d'Art contemporain, Bordeaux, 2002.

Michel, Régis: ‘Gina Pane (dessins)’ in coll. reConnaître, Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 2002.

Weibel, Peter (ed.): ‘Phantom der Lust. Visionen des Masochismus in der Kunst’ in 2 vol., exhibition catalogue, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum, Graz, Belleville Verlag, Munich, 2003.

Pane, Gina: Lettre à un(e) inconnnu(e), artist's text, Énsba, Paris, 2004.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Delia Gaze, Dictionary of Women Artists, vol. 2 (USA: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997), 1064
  3. ^ Delia Gaze, Dictionary of Women Artists, vol. 2 (USA: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997), 1064-65
  4. ^ . Oxford Art Online. 
Jennifer Blessing, 'Gina Pane's Witnesses. The Audience and Photography', Performance Research, vol.7, no.4, 2002, p. 14.


"Gina Pane," kamel mennour accessed Feb. 1 2014

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