Beatriz Milhazes - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in the 1990s

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I am seeking geometrical structures, but with freedom of form and imagery taken from different worlds.” – Beatriz Milhazes

    Appearing on the scene in 1980s Rio de Janeiro, Beatriz Milhazes’s rich compositions boldly examined the heritage of colonial seventeenth century Brazil. Her initial iconographic language found expression in the marriage of nature and architecture, rendered within a menagerie of images drawn from contemporary experience. Importantly, her adept use of both collage and painting characterized her practice and provided her with a platform to investigate a multitude of themes. The present lot, Sem título, executed between 1991 and 1992, is exemplary of her earlier works, in which she immerses her viewers in a complex web of form and color ostensibly pilfered from the lush Brazilian landscape, and yet, they remain distinctively urban.

    Replete with references to the past and the present, to low and high culture, Sem título features azure blue roses peeling away an aged alabaster surface to reveal delicate patterns of crisp white lace and three perfectly-knotted bows, dressed in strings of pearls. Somehow all of this imagery manages to coexist, meticulously composed in a sophisticated interplay of elements which occasionally skirt the exchange between foreground and background. The outlasting impressions of Rio as a city of opulence, particularly in its Baroque hey-day, are immediately evident. Her command of historical motifs is underscored by her technique, with remnants of paint scattered throughout the canvas without any bearing, reappearing again throughout the canvas. As she transfers acrylic paint in thin sheets, the resulting layers age the canvas, telling tales of decrepit surfaces, invoking the effects of history through the handling of paint rather than explicit representation.

  • Artist Biography

    Beatriz Milhazes

    Brazilian • 1960

    Beatriz Milhazes is best known for her vibrantly colored yet calculated compositions. The artist has cited Baroque architecture, lace work, Carnival decoration and the flora of the Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janiero chief among her inspirations. Milhazes' artistic practice is akin to monotype or collage in that the artist first paints motifs directly onto transparent plastic sheets and later applies them to the canvas, leaving the plastic to dry. The superimposed image allows for overlapping and layering, resulting in a textured canvas and a distorted central focal point. While seemingly chaotic, Milhazes' compositions are perfectly balanced due to the artist's technically sophisticated use of geometric forms and chromatic color palate.

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Sem título

acrylic on canvas
47 1/4 x 23 5/8 in. (120 x 60 cm)
Signed and dated "B. Milhazes 1991/92" on the reverse.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $269,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 10 May 2016