2024: Giuseppe Penone

Giuseppe Penone was born in 1947 in Garessio in northern Italy. He received his artistic breakthrough in the late 1960s as a key figure of the Arte Povera movement and has since had an influential career internationally. Already in 1970, Pontus Hultén, then director of Moderna Museet, acquired Penone’s tree sculpture Albero di 12 metri for the museum’s collection. This iconic work has since been included in several exhibitions at Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Malmö.

Through his sculptures, as well as works in other media, Penone has explored concepts such as time, humanity and nature, and his works highlight the interconnectedness of the world. He is often described as a master of materials, a sculptor with the ability to reveal what is invisible and make the impossible possible.

The artistic council’s motivation for the 2024 selection reads:
“Over the past five decades, Giuseppe Penone has explored the relationship between humans and nature in his groundbreaking artistic practice. A recurring motif is the living, growing tree as it relates to the human body. In his sculptures, Penone uses natural elements to emphasize the materials’ unique characteristics through simple gestures that draw our attention to the complex processes that surround us.”

The acquisition of Giuseppe Penone’s sculpture has been made possible through a generous donation by Birgitta and Conni Jonsson.

The Princess Estelle Sculpture Park continues to grow with the site-specific unique work The Inner Flow of Life by Giuseppe Penone, the fifth permanent sculpture in its collection. The Inner Flow of Life will be installed between Israel af Ströms väg and Rosendalsvägen on Royal Djurgården in Stockholm and inaugurated by H.R.H. Prince Daniel on 30 May 2024.

Charlotte Gyllenhammar


Charlotte Gyllenhammar, one of Sweden’s most important sculptors, is the first Swedish artist to be presented by the Foundation. Since her breakthrough 30 years ago where she suspended an oak tree upside-down above Drottninggatan in Stockholm, she has had an active and successful career both in Sweden and internationally. Gyllenhammar is the recipient of several prestigious awards, participated in numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries, but is perhaps most famous for her majestic and expressive public art works. The four-metre-tall bronze sculpture Untold is a reminder of how art can communicate what we want to say when words fail us.

I feel very honoured to have been invited to create a work for the Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation and to be part of the developing sculpture park in this very special setting. The place means a lot to me, I’ve spent so much time at Royal Djurgården, both during my childhood and as an adult. My sculpture Untold will rise from the ground like a physically overpowering creature cast in bronze. Present, distinct but introspective and concentrated, facing an unexpected opportunity. 

– Charlotte Gyllenhammar

The Princess Estelle Sculpture Park continues to grow with the site-specific unique work Untold by Charlotte Gyllenhammar, the fourth permanent sculpture in its collection. Untold will be installed by the beech grove next to Rosendal Palace on Royal Djurgården in Stockholm and unveiled by H.R.H. Prince Daniel on 29 May 2023.

Charlotte Gyllenhammar


The Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation has the pleasure of presenting the artist of 2022 at Royal Djurgården: Yinka Shonibare CBE – one of the world’s currently most widely-acknowledged and successful artists. Thanks to a private donation, the cultural foundation will acquire a new sculpture by Yinka Shonibare. This will be the third work in Princess Estelle’s Sculpture Park, which the foundation together with the Royal Djurgården administration is establishing in the Rosendal area.

Shonibare’s sculpture is inaugurated on June 2 by H.K.H. Prince Daniel, and until September 25, various art education programs and events will be offered in collaboration with 13 other institutions. This year’s partners are the British Embassy, Drottningholm Castle Theater, the Ethnographic Museum, the Stockholm School of Economics, Konstfack, the Royal Djurgården Administration, Liljevalchs, Magasin III Museum of Contemporary Art, Moderna Museet, the National Museum, the Nigerian Embassy, Rosendals Trädgård and the Technical Museum.

Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in London in 1962, grew up in his family’s native Nigeria, then returned to the UK to study art school and has had an outstanding career since the early 90’s.

CBE is a title that Shonibare added to his name two years ago, when he was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. This is just one of many prestigious awards he has received since being nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004. Shonibare is a member of the Royal Academy in London, he is represented in several of our contemporary most important art collections and has also participated in the Venice Biennale, documenta XI, and exhibitions at leading museums around the world.

What Yinka Shonibare CBE has become known for is the work in different techniques; painting, photography, performance, film and sculpture, where he started from Western art history to explore the concepts of cultural and national identity. His signature material is the colorful batik fabric that is considered genuinely African despite having a completely different origin. The fabrics are in fact inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by Dutch people in the 19th century who sold them on to European colonies in West Africa. There, the textiles became very popular, which led to them ironically becoming a symbol of the African quest for liberation and independence in the 1960s.

Shonibare, who describes himself as a “postcolonial hybrid”, regards his most crucial work material, pseudo-African cotton batik fabrics, as a metaphor for migration.  “The material has the ability to be Dutch, Indonesian and African at the same time. For me, the fabrics are a symbol of cross-cultural connections,” says Yinka Shonibare CBE.

2021: Elmgreen & Dragset

The Scandinavian artist duo Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, who are based in Berlin, met in Copenhagen in the ‘90s and have worked together since 1995. Throughout their renowned career, they have worked with sculpture, performance, art installations and public works. They continuously address important issues regarding human relations and often challenge the art world with inquiring criticality, acuity and absurd humour in their work.

Significant in Elmgreen & Dragset’s art is the use of everyday objects in a surprising way. When taken out of their usual context and positioned in an unexpected place, the objects are reconfigured. By presenting the recognizable in an unexpected way, a new meaning is given and our traditional interpretation is altered.

In their sculpture Life Rings, the artists have utilized an object that we recognize, the lifebuoy, a rescue tool that symbolizes security in crisis situations. Generally we see it as a solitary object, but in Elmgreen & Dragset’s sculpture we experience a cluster of lifebuoys, interconnected in a circuit that extends upwards into the air. The life rings are no longer usable – they become a symbol for something bigger.

Embedded in the work is the idea that we are all dependent on one another and must care for each other. There is an underlying concern for a declining community in a world that over-emphasizes the individual. Incorporated in the sculpture Life Rings is an aspiration for wide-reaching cooperation and solidarity. Elmgreen & Dragset’s work calls for reflection and invites us to contemplate humanity and the fragility of life.

In several of the artists’ sculptures, as well as here at Royal Djurgården, water or the proximity to water become integral to the meaning of the work. By exploring a place or its surroundings as a theme, they open up new ways of looking at art and in parallel raise questions about private versus public spaces.

Life Rings, an acquisition made possible thanks to private donations to Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation, is Elmgreen & Dragset’s first public sculpture in Sweden and the second permanent work in the sculpture park at Royal Djurgården.

2020: Alice Aycock

The exhibition of Alice Aycock in 2020 was the first to be organised by the Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation, and the artist’s first solo show in Scandinavia. Alice Aycock (b. 1946) lives and works in New York. Her internationally successful career took off in the beginning of the 1970s.

Aycock has been widely recognised on the largely male-dominated art scene, and she is considered to be a pioneer in sculpture thanks to her early works in the field of Land Art. Alice Aycock has taught at leading universities, and has been on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York since 1991. Academic disciplines such as science and art history have been vital sources of inspira- tion in her artistic practice.

She has exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial and participated in documenta VI and VIII in Kassel. Her oeuvre is represented in museum collections around the world, including the the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover.

Aycock is also well known for her many public installations, including the ones at fourteen different universities in the US. In 2014, a series of seven sculptures were installed on the Part Avenue Malls in New York, entitled Park Avenue Paper Chase, in collaboration with Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.

The six sculptures featured in the exhibition at Royal Djurgården belong to the “Turbulence” series, in which Aycock attempts to visualise wind and water energy. The artist has experienced wild storms and uncontrollable tornados, and although they can be frightening, she has always been fascinated by them. Along with wind and water, she is also interested in the dynamics of human movement expressed in dance.

In 2018, she was given the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center, which acknowledges artists who are masters of sculptural processes and techniques and have devoted their careers to the advancement of the sculptural field as a whole. She also received an Academy of the Arts Achievement Award in Visual Arts from Guild Hall in March of 2019.

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