Mira Schendel - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Santiago; Private Collection, Los Angeles; PrivateCollection, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born in Zurich in 1919, Mira Schendel grew up and was educated in Milan.Her father and maternal grandfather were Jewish, and she left Italy underduress during the Second World War. Schendel lived in Sofia, Sarajevo andRome before eventually applying for Brazilian citizenship. She settled inPorto Alegre in 1949 and moved to São Paulo in 1953.

    In the present lot, Untitled, 1956, Schendel paints oil generously onto theboard, producing a distinctive thick texture; this is inherent to her still life,landscape and portrait paintings of the 1950s and early 1960s. From 1962onwards, she began to use tempera, and produced a series of works thatoccupy the interstices between abstraction and figuration and were oftentitled simply Paisagem (landscape) or Fachada (façade). The theoreticalphysicist, collector, curator and critic, Mário Schenberg, was drawn tothis reconciliation of abstraction with figuration in Schendel’s work. ForSchenberg, the findings of geometric abstraction and concrete art generated“new types of figurative imagery”.

    The establishing of a productive and mutually transforming dialogue withwriters and thinkers was of central importance to the process of Schendel’swork. In addition to Schenberg, other partners in this dialogue included thephilosophers Vilém Flusser, Max Bense, Jean Gebser and Hermann Schmitz.

    “Mira Schendel’s art is a paradigm of an intellectually refined art whichstrives to build ties between philosophical concerns and the poetic structureof a work of art ... The conceptual complexity of her work never affected theclarity of the artistic fact. Schendel understood art as a complete experiencewithin the concept of space as established by Western culture.”
    (P. Herkenhoff, ‘Mira Schendel and the shaping of the inexpressible’ [1994],in Mira Schandel Monotypes, Galleria Millan and Stephen Friedman Gallery,2009, p. 1)

  • 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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Mixed media on board.
85.5 × 56 cm (33 5/8 × 22 in).
Signed and dated ‘Mira MCMLVI’on the reverse.

£120,000 - 180,000 

Contemporary Art Day Sale

13 October 2011