Olga de Amaral - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Casa Amaral, Bogota

  • Catalogue Essay

    Olga de Amaral’s complex tapestries oscillate between traditional and avant-garde artistic practices. The present lot, Poblado K, is a prime example of the artist’s mature style in which she blurs the lines between art and craft, presenting the viewer with a compelling artwork that is at once textile and sculpture.

    Born in Bogota, Olga de Amaral began her formal training as an architect, a practice that would later pervade her compositions. Dissatisfied with her schooling, de Amaral traveled to the United States and enrolled at the Cranbrook Academy of Fine Art to study textiles. During her time there, de Amaral was drawn to weaving and tirelessly worked to perfect her technique. Upon her return to Colombia in 1955, she was exposed to a wide array of traditional and new materials that allowed her to situate her approach within the context of contemporary art. Experimenting with ancient weaving, de Amaral drew great inspiration from the peasant women of her native Colombia who spun wool on the streets and during this period she utilized a variety of colored threads in her textiles.

    De Amaral’s formal training and initial experimentation in Colombia complemented her extensive travels and undoubtedly influenced her style. Her travels to Peru were particularly significant as she was exposed to Andean weaving. During this time, de Amaral began utilizing strips of textured linens that she would braid and coat with gold and silver leaf. The results were impressive compositions featuring compact geometric patterns. Similar to many artists from the modern milieu, de Amaral was preoccupied with capturing light and creating depth in her work. This was achieved through the effects of layering and superimposing. The addition of gold and silver leaf would foreshadow de Amaral’s later experimentation with the application of paint and gesso to her textiles, solidifying her interest in bridging the gap between art and craft.

    As de Amaral’s oeuvre continued to develop in complexity and scale, her practice also began to shift. She began developing pre-woven fiber cords that were wrapped and bound in a cylindrical fashion. By using pre-woven strips, de Amaral was able to streamline her manual process and ensure the production of a consistent geometric pattern. This led to the artist’s completion of large-scale tapestry installations in the early 1970s such as El Gran Muro (1973) that was installed at Atlanta’s Peach Tree Plaza Hotel.

    The present lot illustrates de Amaral’s mastery of her mature craft. A large-scale gold piece, Poblado K is composed of two distinct weaving patterns that each occupy half of the compositional space. The top section of this work is composed of a tight geometric pattern that is achieved by the repetition of small squares. The bottom half of the textile is comprised of a gestural pattern, encompassing circular elements and darker gold patches. The inclusion of two distinct designs builds a dynamic composition that creates the illusion of movement. The melding of these vastly different weaving techniques and styles along with the inclusion of gesso, acrylic and gold leaf highlights de Amaral’s preoccupation with various artistic principles: geometric rigor, abstraction, textural depth, and movement. In Poblado K, the viewer is confronted with a work that is neither painting, sculpture, nor textile but rather an amalgamation of all three. Relating to many other contemporary artist’s installation pieces, Poblado K forces the viewer to contemplate the space he or she occupies in relation to the piece and provides a new understanding of depth and spatial perspective. In this work, de Amaral has remained true to her foundations in textile, while elevating the craft to a form of contemporary art. Olga de Amaral’s artwork is held in many prestigious museum collections, most notably the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In August 2017, the Nevada Art Museum will inaugurate a major exhibition of her work entitled Unsettled.

  • Artist Biography

    Olga de Amaral

    Colombian • 1932

    At age 22 with a degree in architectural design, Olga de Amaral moved from Bogotá to the United States where she studied fiber art at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. She returned to Colombia in 1955, and in 1956 she and her husband, Jim Amaral, opened a workshop of hand-woven textiles. De Amaral's distinctive large-scale abstract woven pieces are often covered in gold and silver leaf, lending them a shimmering, almost sculptural quality in contrast to the feeling of a tapestry. Her richly textured pieces evoke the varied natural landscapes of Colombia as well as ancient pre-Columbian gold artifacts. The artist's architectural background is evident in the precise sculptural quality of her works, but de Amaral says her craft is driven by emotion and that she does not plan for particular patterns to emerge. 

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Sold to Benefit Vivarte


Poblado K

signed, titled and dated "Poblado K - Olga de Amaral 2016" on a label affixed on the reverse
gesso, acrylic and gold leaf on linen
78 3/4 x 39 3/8 in. (200 x 100 cm)
Executed in 2016, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Contact Specialist
Kaeli Deane
Head of Sale, Latin American Art
New York
+1 212 940 1352

Latin America

New York Auction 22 November 2016