Hélio Oiticica - Latin America New York Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection of Vilma and Moyses Lupion, Brazil
    By descent to Private Collection, São Paulo
    Private Collection, São Paulo

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Rio de Janeiro, Hélio Oiticica was one of the most inventive artists of the post-World War II period. A dreamer and an idealist, he created experiential environments where viewers became participants, enveloped in all means of artistic apparatuses. Oiticica identified strongly with his Brazilian roots and spent a great deal of time in the favelas of Rio, which he recognized as strongholds against the oppression of the military dictatorship in his country. His groundbreaking installation Tropicália (1967) was a sensorial portrait of Rio as well as an environment that engaged and absorbed viewers in a myriad of ways. Oiticica exhibited widely during his lifetime, with his acclaimed Whitechapel Experiment in London and later his efforts to make a name for himself in New York. Tragically the artist died very young and little is left of his artistic production, due to a terrible fire in 2009 that destroyed nearly 2000 of his works.

    Much of what remains are Oiticica’s early works, which are stunning jewels that give insight into the young mind of an artistic genius, informing much of his later experiments. The present work, Metaesquema (1958), shows Oiticica’s grasp of European abstraction and the influence of artists like Piet Mondrian and Kazimir Malevich, who pushed for an art that would transform society. The series of Metaesquemas produced from 1957 to 1958, demonstrate Oiticica’s preoccupation with color as an entity with its own time, structure and space. Yet, even as one of the youngest artists associated with the Grupo Frente, Oiticica quickly cannibalized the older members’ achievements, becoming a leader of the Neo-Concrete movement that would transform Brazilian art forever.

  • Artist Biography

    Hélio Oiticica

    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.

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gouache on cardboard
15 3/8 x 20 in. (39.1 x 50.9 cm)
Executed in 1958, this work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity issued by the Projeto Hélio Oiticica.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale, Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York Auction 24 May 2017