Doris Salcedo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, São Paulo
    Christie's, New York, November 19, 2001, lot 58
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie International 1995, November 5, 1995 - February 18, 1996, p. 249

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Memory, of course, is the essence of my work” – Doris Salcedo

    Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s haunting and deeply poignant artworks explore universal themes of loss and memory. Profoundly affected by the Civil War that ravished her nation for decades, Salcedo turned to sculpture in the 1980s as a means of memorializing the hundreds of thousands of lives lost as a result of this political conflict. Her sculptures, which are comprised of household objects such as chairs, tables, beds and cabinets, make manifest the void left behind by such loss and serve as lasting reminders of the victims’ absence. In Untitled, executed in 1995, Salcedo fills a traditional, wooden cabinet with cement and iron bars, resulting in a work that is both worn in appearance and beautiful in the memory it serves to commemorate. This tomb-like sculpture not only explores the plight of the victim, but also alludes to the pain and suffering of remembrance and those who are left behind. The physical weight of the concrete lends a permanence to Untitled, and mimics the enduring emotional weight carried by family members and survivors who lost loved ones to the war.

    Yet despite such sorrow, Salcedo nevertheless finds beauty in her artistic process. She notes, “I believe that if you want to dignify a human life then you have to come back to beauty because that is where we find dignity. And almost turn it into a sacred space. That is the level of beauty that should be present in the work." (Doris Salcedo, quoted in “Doris Salcedo: Memory as the essence of work”, SFMOMA, 2004, online) For Salcedo, works such as Untitled become sacred in their ability to dignify, honor, and remember the lives of those they commemorate. As such, Untitled exists at a unique crossroad – on the one hand, deeply personal and inextricably imbedded within the history of Colombia’s political strife; and on the other, powerfully universal, addressing omnipresent concerns such as loss, love, and ultimately, beauty.

  • Artist Biography

    Doris Salcedo

    Colombian • 1958

    Colombian-born sculptor Doris Salcedo studied at New York University before returning to her hometown of Bogotá to teach in 1980. Her work revolves around themes of suffering and loss, inspired by both personal and collective experience of trauma in Colombia. Composed of commonplace items such as wooden furniture, clothing and grass, her sculptures give form to the emptiness left in the wake of the death or disappearance of a loved one. By acknowledging and making manifest the void, her works probe its potential to be reappropriated as a space of mourning. She has become predominantly famous for her installation artwork, in which she incorporates the physicality of space, creating historically and politically charged environments.

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wood, cement, iron and glass
38 1/4 x 47 1/8 x 16 1/4 in. (97.2 x 119.7 x 41.3 cm.)
Executed in 1995.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $435,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018