Mira Schendel - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, São Paulo

  • Catalogue Essay

    Between 1970 and 1971, Schendel worked intensively on the production of a group of works collectively entitled Cadernos (Notebooks) of which there are approximately 150 individual, hand-made examples. Many of these works were exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo (MAC-USP). Directed by Walter Zanini, MAC-USP was an important centre for experimental practice, for different generations of artists working in the city at that time. Thus these works mark a moment at which Schendel’s dialogue with, and subsequent influence upon, younger artists became particularly important. At the same time as the Notebooks, Schendel also produced similar works on separate, unbound sheets of card; these could be arranged according to the intervention of either chance, or the viewer’s decision. In a similar way, the Notebooks demand that the viewer decide where to begin reading, what relationships to make between pages, and whether to read them individually or in relation to one another. The Notebooks can be divided into several sub-series. These include a group of works whose pages were punctuated with hand-punched holes and those that – like this example - presented a symbol, letter, sign or number that remains essentially the same while also being allowed to vary as its position and combination changes from page to page. The series also included a set of Transparent Notebooks, which, like the Disks, contained translucent sheets, so that pages could either be seen singly, or, through their layers, in relation to one another. The Cadernos were one of several series of works to capture the attention of the philosopher of language Vilém Flusser. From his perspective, these notebooks spoke of the possibility of re-configuring the structure of language. For Flusser, the Notebooks “spoke of what cannot be said”. By introducing new dimensions to reading, he argued, they were able to expand the relationship between language and thought.

  • Artist Biography

    Mira Schendel

    Brazilian • 1919 - 1988

    Born in Zurich and of Jewish heritage, Mira Schendel escaped Switzerland during World War II to settle in Sarajevo and Rome, finally immigrating to Brazil in 1953. In the 1960s, she began to produce her iconic monotipas, delicate drawings on luminescent rice paper. She rejected the notion of painting as a primary medium, abandoning the genre in the 1970s for almost a decade. Schendel worked mostly with paper and objects made of unusual materials such as Plexiglas, fabrics and aqueous inks.

    Recurring themes in her work include letters, geometric figures and phrases reflecting a radical lexicon, often juxtaposing elements from two languages (visual and numerical). Many of her works hover in the space between drawing and writing, creating a certain visual poetry that is completely her own. Schendel's works go beyond the materiality of making art and allow viewers to understand the relationship between language, time and human thought processes.

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Untitled (from Cadernos Series)

Letraset on paper on acrylic leaves.
Dimensions variable. 23 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 2 3/4 in. (59 x 21 x 7 cm).

$120,000 - 180,000 

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York