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  • Provenance

    Marga Paz Gallery, Madrid
    Sale: Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Part I, November 19, 1997, lot 5
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Juan Muñoz has created a tremendous output of work throughout his astonishing career, including two-dimensional images, sound pieces, writings, and collaborations with authors, but he is undoubtedly remembered most for his alluring sculptural works. Muñoz’s renowned sculptures frequently include two of his most recurrent character symbols, the ballerina and the dwarf. The present lot, Two Ballerinas, 1989, appears to borrow both of these recurring characterizations, reminiscent of iconic works by Diego Velázquez such as Don Baltasar Carlos with a Dwarf, 1631 and Las Meninas, 1656. Muñoz’s fgures take on similar traits of such characters like the Infanta Margarita, with her short torso and large bottom heavy dress. Muñoz’s ballerinas are often elevated on pedestals or stages and are symbolically legless, having instead weighted and rounded bottoms on which they are able to sway, as if performing for their audience. Despite their weighty and architectural distortions there is an implied movement, a promise of twirling, with bells for hands as additional theatricality.

    While appearing regal and elegant in stature, Muñoz describes an undertone of violence in his famed ballerinas. It is a muted violence, intrinsic in such fgures who cannot walk, see, or speak. The artist stated “I had great diffculty convincing myself, for example, that I could make the ballerina. I was frightened by making such a romantic figure. But I felt like there was this inherent violence in the piece. The ballerina was muted and bound, forever moving and forever going nowhere.” One of the leading artists of his generation, Juan Muñoz will continue to be praised for his diverse and vast body of work centering on the narrative possibilities of figures in environments, including his exquisite ballerinas. (Juan Muñoz quoted in “Interview with Paul Shimmel”, N. Benezra, M. Brenson, O. Viso, Juan Muñoz, Chicago, 2001).

184

Two Ballerinas

1989
bronze, in two parts, with inlaid wooden artist's base
base: 33 1/2 x 40 1/4 x 40 1/4 in. (85.1 x 102.2 x 102.2 cm)
each figure: 21 3/4 x 23 x 17 1/2 in. (55.2 x 58.4 x 44.5 cm)
overall: 55 1/4 x 40 1/4 x 40 1/4 in. (140.3 x 102.2 x 102.2 cm)

Estimate
$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $206,500

Contemporary Art Day Sale

16 November 2012
New York