Gina Pane was born in Biarritz in 1939 from a family of Italian origins.
Pane studied painting and lithography at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1961 to 1966. She is best known for her body-related performance work and is recognized as one of the most radical and innovative protagonists of the 1970’s Body Art movement in France (“Art corporel”). 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 Hultén.
Gina Pane is best known for “actions” in which she used her own body in her work in extreme ways, such as making small incisions in her flesh with a razor blade as in her signature piece Azione Sentimentale (Sentimental Action) or lying on a metal bed over burning candles and stamping out small fires with her bare hands and feet in The Conditioning (both pieces from 1973). Pane’s work was often mentioned in relation to U.S. artist Chris Burden’s self-inflicting body actions.
Pane began her career creating geometric abstraction in paintings and metal sculptures of primary coloration resonating Minimal Art. Of major artistic influence for Pane’s work of this period was Russian Suprematist Kasimir Malewitsch. In 1968, Pane began making minutely prepared and documented actions in which each gesture carried a ritual dimension. In the following years Pane relocated the body into nature and created pivotal Land Art pieces such as Displaced Stones (1968), Protected Earth (1968-1970), and Enfoncement d’un rayon de soleil (1969). All of her actions continued existing in the form of photographic documentation and the performative object. From the late 1970’s onward, Pane returned to a more abstracted language of symbolically and spiritually charged forms such as the cross, rectangle, and circle as well as an auratic use of materials such as burnt or rusty metal, glass, and copper.