Lygia Pape - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 17, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Estate of the artist
    Galeria Graça Brandão, Lisbon
    Private Collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    "My concern is always invention. I always want to invent a new language that's different for me and for others, too... I want to discover new things. Because, to me, art is a way of knowing the world." -Lygia Pape

    Lygia Pape skillfully worked across a number of artistic areas including, sculpture, printmaking, dance and film. She began her artistic career under the tutelage of Ivan Serpa in the Rio de Janeiro-based Grupo Frente, a movement seeking to explore and advance the visual language of European Concretism and geometric abstraction in Brazil. As such, Pape’s artistic vision quietly rejects figuration in the traditional sense. She created works that would become forms in their own right, existing independently in space and interacting freely with their surroundings. These interests eventually propelled her to embrace Neoconcretism in the late 1950s, and she dedicated her career to fostering creative interaction between an artwork and its viewers.

    Neoconcretism, which counted on Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, and Lygia Pape as some of its most prominent voices, emerged as a formal movement in 1959 and it continued the search for artistic freedom that Grupo Frente had set to achieve. The Neoconcretes, however, considered the artistic theories put forth by Concretism to be reductive and formulaic, believing that Grupo Frente’s view of art as purely self-referential failed to account for the importance of artistic process and viewer involvement.

    Created roughly in between her affiliation with Grupo Frente and her embracing of Neoconcretist values, the present lot is a fascinating glimpse into the intellectual and aesthetic debates that permeated Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in the mid to late 1950s. In Untitled (Desenho I) Pape evokes the simplicity of the square and the line, turning it into a vibrant composition that quickly absorbs her audience. Her intricate draftsmanship and compositional dexterity simulate movement in a space that appears to transcend the paper surface. The dizzying effect of the thin, uniform lines is upended by the superimposed rectangles, whose visual acrobatics add a unique layer of dynamism to an otherwise geometric and consistent landscape.

    It was her fascination with form in all its manifestations that led Pape to distance herself from Grupo Frente in the late 1950s. In her eyes, art is not self-contained but rather uncontainable, and its beauty largely results from its interaction with the world. Through her constant interrogation of the modernist art historical canon, Pape became known as an artist whose wealth of ideas revolutionized Brazilian art in the 20th century.

  • Artist Biography

    Lygia Pape

    Brazilian • 1927 - 2004

    Lygia Pape's diverse oeuvre includes sculpture, engraving, performance and filmmaking. Along with Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Pape was a signatory of the Brazilian Neo-Concrete manifesto, which promoted the ideal that art was not a static representation but rather organic and experiential.  

    Pape's oeuvre was greatly informed by the notion that art should be activated by the viewer. This tenant is best represented in the artist's 1959 Livro da Criacão (Book of Creation), in which the artist utilized geometric shapes to create 16 wood constructions, or "pages," with abstract imagery — each signifying a moment in the creation of the world. Each page is accompanied by poetic lyrics and the viewer was encouraged to touch the books and read the poetry aloud.

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Untitled (Desenho I)

signed and dated "Lygia Pape 1957" lower right
ink on hand-made Japanese paper
36 5/8 x 24 5/8 in. (93 x 62.5 cm.)
Executed in 1957.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $187,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016