Cildo Meireles - Latin America New York Monday, November 19, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gift of the artist to the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Information, 1970 (another example exhibited)
    London, Tate Modern, Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, June 1- September 18, 2005 (another example exhibited)
    Zurich, Daros-Latinamerica Collection at Daros Exhibitions, Seduções: Valeska Soares, Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto, June 9- October 15, 2006 (another example exhibited)
    London, Tate Modern; Barcelona, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts; Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Fine Arts; Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Cildo Meireles, October 14, 2008 – June 27, 2010. Traveling exhibition.(another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    K. McShine, Information, exh. cat., New York, 1970 (another example illustrated)
    D. Cameron, P. Herkenhoff, and G. Mosquera, Cildo Meireles, London, 1999, pp.108-109, 111 (another example illustrated)
    Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, exh. cat., London, 2005, p.138 (another example illustrated)
    H-M. Herzog, Seduções: Valeska Soares, Cildo Meireles, Ernesto Neto, Zurich, 2006 pp. 92, 105 (another example illustrated)
    G. Brett, ed., Cildo Meireles, exh. cat., London, 2008, pp. 62-63, 65 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds is another work at the (unconscious) source of the Insertions. It is an example of an object that exists precisely at this borderline between fiction and reality—it belongs to those two worlds simultaneously. I consider readymades and the War of the Worlds to be two or three of the greatest art objects of the twentieth century.”

    Cildo Meireles, quoted in: G. Brett, ed., Cildo Meireles, London, 2008, p. 65


    Cildo Meireles is internationally recognized as one of the most influential Latin American artists of the 20th century. His body of work is comprised of such a wide array of media that it is impossible to classify him within a single style or movement. Having emerged as an artist in the 1960s, his artistic practice is often described as an example of a politicized version of conceptualism, although that label does not accurately encapsulate the nuances of his observations. As the artist stated, “In some way you become political when you don’t have a chance to be poetic. I think human beings would much prefer to be poetic.” Much of Meireles’ work deals with the intricacies of social interactions and how they are affected by structures of power, which can be of a political, social, cultural, or physical nature. The present lot is one of his most celebrated works, and it embodies the artist’s insurmountable ability to expose unsuspecting socio-political mechanisms through art.

    This lot is part of a large scale art project titled Insertions into Ideological Circuits. Meireles began to execute it in 1970, during a period of intense political oppression in Brazil. He found a way to circumvent the government censors by printing political messages of protest on glass Coca-Cola bottles, which were then returned into circulation. Meireles was channeling the idea of the castaway’s message in a bottle, which is thrown in the ocean in hopes of eventual communication. Meireles replaced the ocean with the Brazilian public and the means of commercial production that daily life inevitably centers around. Almost invisible when empty, the messages printed on transfer text became more legible when the bottles were refilled at the factory. Few people noticed the alterations on the bottles until they began to drink. While using an existing commercial mode of distribution, Meireles destabilized the ideology behind it. Coca-Cola represented the invasion of American brands into the Brazilian mindset, and Meireles employed the company’s own methods to denounce what he believed to be cultural and economic imperialism.

    Insertions into Ideological Circuits is an important example of the development of conceptual art in Latin America. Meireles credits Marcel Duchamp as a major influence in his work, which is evidenced in the present lot. In the United States in 1917, Duchamp removed an ordinary urinal from its commercial circuit and placed it in the elevated stage of art, titling it Fountain. In Brazil 53 years later, Meireles inserted messages into the commodities market, relying on the triviality of the objects to get his messages across. Like Duchamp, Meireles altered readymade objects to make an artistic and socio-political statement, but he employed a different strategy that corresponded to the socio-political context he denounced. As the artist states, “A readymade involves taking an industrial product and making it unique through a subjective process. The basic premise of Insertions is the opposite: starting from a small, individual thing, you can then reach a very large scale through ramifications and branching out.”

    The idea of depending on the public for the artwork to achieve its purpose has its origins in Brazilian Neo-Concretism, a tradition that Meireles inherited from predecessors like Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark. In order for the artist’s message to come across, the public must become active participants, and they must physically interact with the art object. Insertions into Ideological Circuits therefore places Meireles in a prominent position within Brazilian art history, as the torch-bearer for a new generation of artists who faced rapidly changing socio-political landscapes on both local and global stages.

  • Artist Biography

    Cildo Meireles

    Brazilian • 1948

    At the core of Cildo Meireles' conceptual artistic practice is an interest in the functions of economic and political systems. Meireles forms part of the younger generation of Brazilian Neo-Concrete artists who were chiefly concerned with integrating spectator participation in the execution of their artworks, provoking the viewer's sensorial awareness.

    In his seminal series, Insertion In Ideological Circuits 2: Banknote Project (1970), Meireles printed politically subversive messages on American and Brazilian banknotes and sent them into circulation. This vandalism forced viewers to confront the reality of their political and economic systems and question their role and participation within said systems. This one series is emblematic of his larger body of work, which continues to intrigue and confound viewers today.

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BRAZILIAN

9

Inserções em circuitos ideológicos

1970
transfer text on three Coca-Cola glass bottles
each: 9 7/8 x 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 in. (25.1 x 5.7 x 5.7 cm)
Each printed "CM 5-70" center right. This work is from an unnumbered edition.

Estimate
$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $200,500

Latin America

20 November 2012
New York