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Paola Pivi

Bear Like Me
2021
Urethane foam, plastic, feathers, trapeze
82 x 60 x 37 in. (208.3 x 152.4 x 94 cm)
Kindly donated by the artist and Perrotin
Estimate: $80,000–$120,000

Paola Pivi’s bright pink Bear like me, 2021–22, has been hanging out in Aspen since December—quite literally—as he swings from a trapeze at the Aspen Art Museum. Pivi’s series of life-sized, fluorescent monochrome polar bears, whose soft fluffy fur is, in fact, dyed turkey feathers, began back in 2006 when she first moved to Alaska. The first one was yellow, but since then, they have appeared in many different colors, and even a series of cubs have been born. Caught in a variety of human poses—doing a spot of yoga or hugging—they have popped up all over the world in and out of art spaces, over the last years, including around Aspen as part of the 2021–22 ArtUP program.

Pivi’s practice is extremely diverse, including installation, performance, photography, video, and sculpture. Interested in the human-natural world, the climate crisis, and political injustice, she creates works which are at once poetic and playful. Her work is thought-provoking and full of humor; importantly for Pivi, it is accessible. When interviewed for an article in the Financial Times in 2021, she observed: “My art talks to an uninformed audience exactly in the same way as the informed audience.”

After spells on a remote Italian island and in India, Pivi, born in Milan, Italy, in 1971, now lives and works in Alaska. She has exhibited extensively and currently has a solo show, I Want It All, at The Warhol, Pittsburgh, as well as a second commission on the High Line in New York on view till March 2023, titled You know who I am—a large-scale bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty, whose face has been replaced by a series of emoji-inspired masks, which will change throughout the duration of its display.

Artist Bio


Born in Italy in 1971, Paola Pivi’s artistic practice is diverse and enigmatic. Commingling the familiar with the alien, Pivi often works with commonly identifiable objects modified to introduce a new scale, material, or color, challenging the audience to change their point of view. Animals are often cast as protagonists in Pivi’s world. She draws upon their perceived characteristics and instills them with human mannerisms. In Pivi’s art, Polar bears practice yoga, hang from trapezes and engage with one another. Sprouting multicolored feathers, the artworks are life-sized and miniaturized as baby bears. Spanning sculpture, video, photography, performance, and installation, Pivi’s practice trespasses perceived limits to make possible what before seemed impossible. Zebras frolic in the arctic, goldfish fly on airplanes, and in her 2012 Public Art Fund installation, a Piper Seneca airplane was lifted on its wingtips and installed to rotate forward constantly.

Pivi has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions including We are the Alaskan Tourists, Arken Museum, Denmark (2020); Art with a view, The Bass Museum Miami Beach, USA (2018); I did it again, Savannah College of Art and Design, USA (2018); I am tired of eating fish, La Rinascente, Italy (2017); Ma’am, Dallas Contemporary, USA (2016); Tulkus 1880 to 2018, FRAC Bourgogne, France (2014); You started it … I finish it, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (2014); Tulkus 1880 to 2018, Witte de With, Netherlands (2013); Share, But It’s Not Fair, Rockbund Art Museum, China (2012); How I roll, Public Art Fund New York, USA (2012); It’s a cocktail party, Portikus, Germany (2008); and It just keeps getting better, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2007). Pivi has exhibited internationally at institutions including Stad Kortrijk, Belgium; Anchorage Museum, USA; Fondazione Prada, Italy; Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Germany; Whitechapel Gallery, United Kingdom; Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Italy; Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; MOMA PS1, USA; and the XLVIII Biennale di Venezia, Italy. The artist lives and works in Anchorage, Alaska.

In Paola Pivi’s art, polar bears hang from trapezes, participate in yoga, and engage audiences. Sprouting multicolored feathers, the artworks change perceptions and the spaces they are situated in. Spanning sculpture, video, photography, performance, and installation, Pivi’s art practice transcends perceived limits to make possible what before seemed impossible. This work is part of the 2021-22 ArtUP program, an ongoing Aspen Skiing Company series of city-wide contemporary art projects.

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