Mira Schendel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Breaking Out: The Transcendence of Women in Latin American Art

    The Head of our Latin American Sale Kaeli Deane discusses the incredible worldwide surge in recognition being given to female artists from Latin America, focusing here on Carmen Herrera, Lygia Papa in Mira Schendel. Moreover, and even paradoxically, it is the fact that these women have transcended both their gender and nationality to become regarded simply as world-class artists after decades of working towards just that. Each of these incredible women are subjects of their own major retrospectives in 2016 and 2017: Carmen Herrera at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Lygia Pape at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Mira Schendel at the Tate Modern in London.

  • Provenance

    Estate of the artist
    Galeria Millan, São Paulo
    Private Collection, São Paulo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Tate Modern; Porto, Fundaçao de Serralves - Museu de Arte Contemporânea; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Mira Schendel, September 25, 2013 - October 19, 2014, p. 248
    London, Dominique Lévy, Sotto Voce, February 9 - April 18, 2015

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Switzerland, Mira Schendel is acknowledged as one of the most significant Brazilian artists of the twentieth century.

    Having emigrated from Europe in the years following the devastation of the Second World War, Schendel settled in São Paulo, a dynamic and flourishing city in the midst of artistic revolution. There, she developed a vastly complex and unique body of work. During the early 1950s, Schendel never aligned herself with the prevalent art movements of the time. Belonging to neither Brazilian Concretist nor Neo-Concretist groups, she worked furiously and independently to produce and exhibit her work.

    Mira Schendel's art transpired from her engagement with the intellectual circles she explored, discussing her interests in aesthetics and philosophy. Though she distanced herself from the critical art debates that focused more directly upon evolving formalist trends, she was a central figure in the circulation of dialogue with many of the period's leading artists and thinkers.

    Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Schendel produced her most iconic works: the Monotipias (Monotypes), Droguinhas (Little Nothings), and Objetos Gráficos (Graphic Objects). Executed on Japanese rice paper, these works are characterized by minimalist geometric motifs. Experimenting with ephemeral materials, Schendel became increasingly interested in transforming letters and linguistic elements into objects – an approach most commonly associated with Concrete poetry. In her graphic works, letters are liberated and deconstructed, raising questions about language, writing, drawing, and image.

    In the latter part of her career, Mira paired down her output to the very minimal and fundamental essence of her work: The line and its extraordinary power to convey meaning, vision and the sculptural space in which it achieves that principle. The present work completely captures this aesthetic depth. The tapering of black line along the upper edge hints at a vanishing point or horizon, while the faint white relief creates sculptural volume in the space created. Her earlier works, often referred to as 'The Graphic objects,' are like constellations. But in her final years of working Schendel comes to a poetic and minimal conclusion, aware of the permanent void she would soon be entering.

  • 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.

    View More Works


Sem titulo (XII)

signed, titled and dated "Mira 1986 XII" on the reverse
tempera, gesso and oil on wood
35 3/8 x 70 7/8 in. (90 x 180 cm.)
Executed in 1985-1986.

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $970,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST