Lygia Clark - Latin America New York Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Rubens Gerchman
    Private Collection, Brazil

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Gagosian Gallery, Brazil: Reinvention of the Modern, September 28- November 5, 2011
    São Paulo, Itaú Cultural, Lygia Clark: uma retrospectiva, September 1- November 11, 2012

  • Catalogue Essay

    There is a coherent line of development within Lygia Clark’s own descriptions of the progression in her practice that links the Superfícies Moduladas, which brought the emergence of the notion of the organic line between the panels on a surface, the Contra Relevo, which placed the panels along parallel planes, and the Bicho, which then allowed the viewer to articulate the panels at will.

    However, the relation that her work from the 1950s to early sixties possesses with her later practice, is not so easily described in terms of the formal progression between the constructivist oriented period and her subsequent questioning of the very boundaries of art. On the one hand, Clark’s radical relational work of the late 1960s onwards and particularly its reliance on the ordinariness of the objects she employed seems rather limited by genealogical narratives that argue that these arose from the participatory character of the Bichos. On the other hand, it would be difficult to argue that there was a clear rupture between one phase and the other. The series Estrutura de Caixas de Fósforos (Structure of Matchboxes) is in this sense very important in understanding the radical transition which Clark’s work went through during the mid-1960s.

    She began these at a moment of personal crisis, both creative and in terms of her health. Their apparent simplicity betrays the conscious art historical awareness that Clark had when producing these. In 1964, Clark wrote a short statement that is revealing of the profound significance that these matchbox configurations represented for her: “It is a phase whose space reminds me a lot of Kazimir Malevich and Theo van Doesburg. What is curious is that the white line phase had nothing to with this space, and fundamentally it reminds me of Mondrian. The opposite of any of these. But it is the metaphysics which deep down continues to be the same in the two phases. I am beginning to see the problem of art itself as a terrible presumption and I ask myself where is the sense of humour of a Paul Klee and a Schwitters? For me this seriousness is over and I feel more free to make art like someone who is playing. It is in the enchantment and no longer in the intellect where my joy is now found.”

    While still alive, much of Lygia Clark’s work from the late 1960s onwards was considered by many art critics to have drifted away from the field of art altogether and into other realms such as psychological therapy. However, with the emergence of practices that possess social and relational characteristics, together with several posthumous international exhibitions, her radical position has, over the course of the last two decades, rightly come to be vindicated, earning her the recognition of being one of the most significant artists to have emerged in Brazil during the second half of 20th century. However, this recognition is often detrimental to her previous constructivist practice, often considering it as a mere phase which was ultimately necessary in order to reach the radical nature of her “mature” work. Lygia Clark’s statement above is evidence that both the early Neo-Concrete work and the later relational practice are inextricably connected, the present lot being a material testament to this fact.

  • Artist Biography

    Lygia Clark

    Brazilian • 1920 - 1988

    Lygia Clark was a Brazilian artist associated with the Constructivist and Tropicalia movements. During the 1950s she was primarily known for her paintings and sculptures, but during the 1960s and 1970s she began to explore the idea of sensory perception. Along with other Brazilian artists including Helio Oiticica, she co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement based on the principle that art should be subjective and organic, liable to manipulation by the spectator. She sought new ways to engage the viewer ('the participant') with her work, which became increasingly abstract and holistic. Clark's focus on healing and art therapy redefined the relationship between art and the public, and has become a seminal point of reference for contemporary artists addressing the limitations of conventional art forms.

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Estrutura de Caixas de Fósforos

gouache and glue on cardboard matchboxes
2 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 2 7/8 in. (7 x 6.5 x 7.5 cm.); base 7/8 x 7 3/4 x 7 3/4 in. (2.2 x 19.7 x 19.7 cm.)
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Estate of Lygia Clark,numbered 651.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Head of Latin America Sale
+ 1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York 21 November 2013 4pm