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  • Provenance

    Galeria Graça Brandão, Lisbon
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Pape’s was a utopian project and the truths she wove ‘from extreme consequences’ were a refusal to classify fine art according to its forms of drawing, painting, performance or sculpture." Sue Hubbard

    A member of Grupo Frente in mid-1950s Rio de Janeiro, Lygia Pape sought to expand the reaches of contemporary art beyond representation and passive engagement. The Grupo Frente movement was comprised of a loose association of artists who rallied around the founding figure of Ivan Serpa, 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. Rather than superimposing representational figures on a background, she went on to create 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.

    Grupo Frente, championing the ideas of Max Bill and his contemporaries, argued that Constructivism allowed for greater forms of artistic expression and creative liberty. With their first exhibition in 1954 they advocated the belief that geometry is open to endless exploration and experimentation, since it is not bound by the representational boundaries of realism. 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. The believed that Grupo Frente’s view of art as purely self referential failed to account for the importance of artistic process and viewer involvement. They expanded on the Concrete aesthetic and experimented with innovative mediums like video, performance, and interactive sculptures, designed to engage the public in both physical and intellectual ways.

    Created roughly in between her afiliation 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), Pape evokes the simplicity of the line and the geometric form, turning it into a vibrant composition that quickly absorbs the viewer. 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 diagonals, 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. She believed that an artwork is invariably influenced by conditions outside of its medium, and these surrounding forces can alter the work’s very meaning and potential. Pape’s body of work thereby presents a thorough questioning of the modernist art historical canon. She saw art in everything, and her passion for experimentation led her to delve into a wide variety of media, from painting and sculpture to installation, cinema, and performance. Regardless of her chosen art form, she always succeeded in communicating her positive energy and receptivity. A master at imbuing life into the most standardized of settings, Pape has become 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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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

18

Untitled (Desenho)

1957
ink on hand-made Japanese paper
21 1/8 x 16 1/2 in. (53.5 x 42 cm.)
Signed and dated "Lygia Pape 57" lower right.

Estimate
$180,000 - 250,000 

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

Latin America

New York Auction 24 November 2014 2pm