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P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto
$600,000 - 800,000
sold for $615,000
Gifted by the artist to the present owner
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hélio Oiticica – To Organize Delirium, October 1, 2016 - October 1, 2017, no. 65, fig. 176, p. 308 (archival image illustrated, p. 189)
Created in 1972 during Hélio Oiticica’s seminal New York years, P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto brilliantly exemplifies the pioneering Brazilian artist’s immersive and experiential art practice. The present work is a salient example of Oiticica’s infamous Parangolés, which Oiticica created between 1964 and 1979 with the goal of engendering what he called “lived experiences” through the spectator’s wearing of the cape-like wrap. It is testament to the art historical significance of this work that it was celebrated in Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, the artist’s first U.S. retrospective in twenty years that travelled from the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, to the Art Institute of Chicago and, most recently, to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, between 2016 and 2017. While Oiticica has long been highly regarded in Latin America and in Europe, it has in large part been due to this retrospective that Oiticica’s far-reaching influence on performative and socially-engaged art practices has been given its due reverence in the United States.
By the time Oiticica moved to New York in 1970, his radical and participatory work had already garnered him critical acclaim both in his native Brazil and internationally. A key figure in Brazil’s progressive art scene, he was a leading member of the Brazilian Neo-Concreto movement, 1959-1961, and notably gave name to the multi-disciplinary Tropicália movement with his eponymous installation in 1967. Along with artists like Ivan Serpa and Lygia Clark, Oiticica and the Neo-Concretos would forever transform Brazilian modern art. Unlike the Concrete art movement in Brazil, which closely studied European artists like Max Bill and Theo van Doesburg, Neo-Concretism called for greater sensual engagement and viewer participation. Following his solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 1969, he received the prestigious Guggenheim Foundation fellowship in 1970. While Oiticica created the majority of his work in Rio de Janeiro, his time in New York from 1970 to 1978 was particularly fruitful with regard to the relationships he forged with artists, critics, curators, musicians and writers, including William Burroughs, John Cage, as well as Patti Smith, Alice Cooper and John Lennon. It was also in this period that the present owner developed a close friendship with Oiticica. During that time, Oiticica hosted many gatherings in his East Village loft – where friends could witness the artist’s fascinating creative universe first-hand.
To Oiticica, art was an ethical necessity. Vehemently opposed to the repressive and brutal dictatorship in his native Brazil in the 1960s, Oiticica embraced oppositional modes of his resistance into his multi-disciplinary work. Embracing the notion of “creileisure”, a neologism fusing “creativity” and “leisure”, Oiticica sought to create artistic propositions that offered individuals with non-repressive forms of leisure and that would encourage them to “exercise confidence in their own intuitions and aspirations” (Lynn Zelevansky, Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, exh. cat., Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2016, p. 25). Oiticica considered his Parangolés such as the present one to be his most radical work. Consisting of fabric-based flags, banners and tents, the Parangolés were inspired by Oiticica’s visit to a samba school in the Mangueira favela of Rio de Janeiro in 1964. The phrase “parangolé”, which in Portuguese is jargon for “chaos”, derived from Oiticica’s chance encounter with the word written on a piece of burlap covering a homeless person’s shelter. P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto belongs to the discrete group of cape-like wraps meant to be worn on the body as a way of performatively activating the artwork.
Though Oiticica’s major creative output during his New York Period consisted of writing and filmmaking, he began to revisit his Parangolés starting in 1972. This was partly due to Oiticica’s move from his East Village loft to a considerably smaller apartment on Christopher Street in the West Village, where he used a small Singer electric sewing machine to create these wearable artworks. For his New York Parangolés, Oiticica sourced readily available material from a textile store on Canal Street. As a related notebook sketch from June 1972 shows, Oiticica used a so-called “research word” as a point of departure for works such at the present one – in this case playing with the word “escrerbuto” that he would emblazon on the plastic vinyl element of the cape. This fascination with language was likely linked to Oiticica’s work as a translator at the time, a job he held in New York in order to make ends meet while working on his art.
While Oiticica’s earlier, colorful Parangolés were meant to be danced in, activating “color in motion”, in New York he emphasized the sense of play and parody in relation to the “serious” artist or performer – a sly reference, perhaps, to the solemn art performances and happenings taking place in the New York art world at the time. During this time, Oiticica also began taking photographs of friends wearing the Parangolés in the streets of New York as a type of extension of performance. His work, and P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto by extension, viscerally transmits the idea that art belongs to the people. As James Rondeau has explained, the Parangolés “explored new terrain for collective art making, aiming to stimulate novel forms of social behavior, ethical thinking, and improvisational, hybridized creative modes. Oiticica deemed the participator an “enjoyer” – proclaiming ‘because he is inside, he is a catalyst’” (James Rondeau, Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, exh. cat., Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2016, p. 112). While Oiticica passed away eight years after creating P31 Parangolé, capa 24, at only 43 years of age, his radical, social-engaged practice has come to influence a generation of contemporary artists, such as Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tino Sehgal, among many others.
Brazilian • 1937 - 1980
Hélio Oiticica is one of Brazil's most influential artists. His work ranges from abstract compositions to early environmental installations exploring color, form, and material. He studied under Ivan Serpa in the mid-1950s and joined Grupo Frente, an association of artists in Rio de Janeiro interested in developing the legacy of European Constructivism within the context of the modernization of Brazil. Disagreements with the São Paulo Ruptura group led Oiticica and Lygia Clark to create the Neo-Concrete group (1959-'61).
His Metaesquemas (1957-'58) are an important series of gouaches where color is reduced to a few tones and broken into irregular shapes that are isolated within a grid. However he soon rejected this conventional art form for more radical ones that demanded viewer participation, including his Parangoles (1964–'68), three-dimensional sculptures based on traditional Brazilian Carnival costumes. Yet an exploration of the physical nature of color remained a constant in his work up until his untimely death in 1980.
P31 Parangolé, capa 24, Escrerbuto
$600,000 - 800,000
sold for $615,000
New York Auction 16 November 2017