Jac Leirner - Latin America New York Monday, November 24, 2014 | Phillips
  • Video

    JAC LEIRNER 'Nomes (Names)', 1989

    "The idea of collecting is at the center of Leirner's artistic practice, oscillating between the essence of the found object as is, and a study in materiality..." Director of Latin American Art Laura Gonzalez discusses 'Nomes (Names)', 1989 from our 24 November Latin American Art sale.

  • Provenance

    Galeria Presença, Porto
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Ad Infinitum, 2002
    Porto Alegre, Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, Jac Leirner, 1993
    Venice, Biennale de Venezia, Aperto 90, 27 June - 30 September 1990

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Art is my main concern. I am always making very explicit that all these masters in the history of art are my main thoughts and my muses." Jac Leirner

    Jac Leirner was exposed to art at a very young age, as she herself stated. She experienced it even before she understood it, and from very early on, her parents and family instilled in her the importance of collecting art. This concept of collecting would eventually become an essential mode of expression that she used throughout her oeuvre and included in many of her important works. She was born into a family of progressive artists and intellectuals who were deeply interested in collecting art from important Brazilian artists — such as Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark — who were well known only in Brazil at the time, although now they are internationally recognized as seminal contemporary artists. Yet her very peculiar individual concept of collecting is not dedicated to art alone. It can only be described as an almost obsessive accumulation of quotidian objects that most people would consider insignificant, which she collects in volume, later organizing and transforming them into sculptures that elegantly unify elements of Formalism, Minimalism and Abstraction.

    Leirner’s formal education is also a powerful element in her artistic work. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) — a rigorously academic university, whose curriculum was reformed by influential Brazilian artists from the 1970s and 1980s, such as Nelson Leirner. This theoretical and technical training was modeled on Bauhaus pedagogy, whose foundational courses had a definitive influence on her work. The educational model emphasized experimentation and postulated that visual expressions should be attained through an abstract and experiential exhaustive study of material, color, texture and form.

    Leirner exemplifies this model in the present lot, Nomes (Names), 1989, one of the most important works of her career. This installation is made up of numerous found plastic bags sewn together and stuffed with foam. Leirner experimented with color early on in her career through watercolor, where she mixed different shades together, repeatedly painting layer over layer until she achieved the right hue. This experience confirmed her interest in the continual exploration of color in its own right, and in turn, led her to steer away from the pictorial — unlike other artists of her generation, who opted for Neoexpressionist painting.

    In contrast, Leirner is passionate about sculpture and was deeply influenced by the Brazilian Neoconcrete and Conceptual artists, as well as American Minimalists such as Donald Judd. Thus, in a manner similar to Judd, she became a creator of objects. Consequently, she began to extensively study material, texture and form, allowing her to create complex installations, such as the present lot. These objects, sculptures and installations reflect her intense interest in the literalism of Minimalism. Thus, in Nomes (Names), 1989, the work is as she states “not there to represent. It already is, and it carries the condition within its raw state.”

    The work naturally references Minimalism and Brazilian Constructivism but also presents the bags as the object they are, where each bag has a history and alludes to the contents that it once held. Paradoxically, the graphic commercial text on the bags is what makes this installation so visually striking.

    This work, as are many of Leirner’s other pieces, is also a methodical exploration of material. She believes that each bag has its own nature, its own particular weight, color and size, all of which allows her to create an infinite number of surfaces. Interestingly, there is no logic as to how she chooses the different materials she uses in her work; each time it is a spontaneous decision that marks a point of departure for the construction of the next object. Furthermore, her theory behind color is that all colors are perfect and each one has its specificities. Therefore, instead of painting exploratory layer after layer in watercolor, she focuses her meticulous study of color through this massive arrangement of found bags, each one covered in unique hues that together produce a rainbow of readymade shades. The amount of effort put into collecting, classifying and painstakingly sewing the bags together is significant, symbolizing the passage of time. Throughout her career, Leirner has constructed complex objects and installations that have contributed greatly to the contemporary history of Brazilian art, where an amalgamation of trivial ephemera is transformed into a stunningly conceptual work of art that is, at its core, a rigorous examination of form and color.

  • Artist Biography

    Jac Leirner

    Brazilian • 1961

    Considered one of Brazil's most important contemporary artists, Jac Leirner manipulates found materials to create work that offers biting social commentary on the economy and consumer culture. She was born in 1961 in São Paulo to prominent patrons of Brazilian art. The importance of "collecting" has always been integral in Leriner's life, as her father, Adolfo Leirner, was a prominent collector of Neo-Concrete art. While the artist's parents were interested in collecting quality pieces, Leirner asserts that her interest lies in amassing large quantities of found objects. Leirner configures these found objects into numerous patterns, creating large sculptural installations that explore themes of space, color and materiality.

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Nomes (Names)

found plastic bags and polyurethane foam
196 7/8 x 251 7/8 in. (500 x 640 cm.)
Signed and dated "Jac Leirner 1989" on the reverse.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $221,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Director of Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York Auction 24 November 2014 2pm