Roxy Paine – Tree Artist

‘Maelstrom’ on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2009(Photo by Allison Meier)

Dear Readers, I have a great fondness for artists who are influenced by the natural world, and so I was most impressed by American artist Roxy Paine (b. 1966). He calls his trees ‘dendroids’ – they’re based on the growth patterns of real trees, but are clearly something else. Paine describes them thus:

‘I’ve processed the idea of a tree and created a system for its form. I take this organic majestic being and break it down into components and rules. The branches are translated into pipe and rod.’

‘Graft’ by Roxy Paine – Photo by Ron Cogswell

‘Inversion’ by Roxy Paine. Photo by צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר,

‘Neuron’ by Roxy Paine – Photo by Seligmanwaite at

I love the way that these ‘dendroids’ are clearly trees, but are also both alien and somehow mechanical. The more I learn about trees, and indeed about life in general, the more it’s clear that it’s the collection of simple chemical reactions, coupled to make incredibly complex systems, that are responsible for any of us being able to get up in the morning. Paine’s dendroids are meant to resemble not just the natural branching structure of a tree, but also all the natural and unnatural systems that resemble it, from the blood vessels in our bodies to the electric wiring in our homes.

‘Ferment’ by Roxy Paine. Photo by JoLynne Martinez at


I love these sculptures – to me the combination of branches and metal and silver makes something both ethereal and slightly menacing, as if Tolkien’s ents had gone space-age. And I found out about them via another Christmas present, a book called ‘A Tree a Day’ by Amy-Jane Beer. It’s full of all sorts of wonders, and comes highly recommended – it isn’t just a march through tree species, but comes at them from all sorts of angles. Anyhow, let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “Roxy Paine – Tree Artist

  1. Ann Bronkhorst

    They must be terrific to see and walk around and through. A bit Ent-like but for me, Ents are massive and ancient-looking, like ancient oaks


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