Sergio Camargo - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galeria L'Obelisco, Rome
    Private Collection, Los Angeles

  • Catalogue Essay

    In a time when radical innovation felt essential, Sérgio de Camargo reevaluated everything. Entering adulthood during the turbulent postwar years, he saw how artists were struggling to rid themselves of prewar perspectives and realities that were no longer true or relevant. In the midst of widespread violence, political oppresion, philosophical uncertainty and technological innovation, artists sought to redefine what the concept of art-making truly meant. In order to do so, visual language had to change. Faced with the challenge of breaking with the past, Camargo dedicated his artistic career to the detailed study of two of the most basic elements of art—form and space—in order to radicalize the heretofore established concept of structural objectivity.

    Influenced by the postwar abstraction and material essentialism of his mentors Lucio Fontana and Constantin Brancusi, Camargo went on to create sculptural works that are simultaneously reminiscent of painting and bas-relief, encompassing aesthetic language ranging from Greco-Roman classicism to Brazilian Constructivism. His wall pieces either jaggedly emerge or softly sway into our three-dimensional reality, presenting viewers with detained meditations on the dynamics between pure form and spatial conditions.

    “In his long series of reliefs and sculptures he goes back again and again to the same constructive paradigm—a cylinder or cube and the ways it may be cut and combined—and the more he explores it, the more he articulates all its possibilities, the more he undermines its status as a paradigm, as ‘law’, making us question the sort of stability and finality we invest in paradigms. The most subtle thing, perhaps, is that Camargo does not investigate this paradox in an ideal conceptual realm but in light, in the changing light of the everyday world with its incalculable complexity of nuance.” (G. Brett, “A Radical Leap”, Art in Latin America, Ed. Dawn Ades, New Haven: Yale Unniversity Press, 1989, pp. 270-275)

    Camargo’s almost exclusive use of white throughout the 60s and 70s alludes in part to the contemporary enthusiasm for the minimalist monochrome. Artists like Yves Klein and Lucio Fontana had been dissecting the allure and nature of color for years, and Camargo was fascinated by what the most contextualizable color—white—meant for spatial relationships and aesthetics. Moreover, his use of the monochrome refers to his interest in the dichotomy between balance and chaos—the relative quiet of the white versus the vibrant noise of the patternless, protruding forms. This philosophical perceptiveness and experimental spirit permeate the entirety of his artistic production.

  • Artist Biography

    Sergio Camargo

    Brazilian • 1930 - 1990

    Sergio Camargo was a Brazilian artist known for his sculptures, wall-based reliefs and architectural commissions. Born in Rio de Janeiro, he studied in Buenos Aires and Paris before returning to Brazil in 1950 at which point he became familiar with the Constructivist movement. During the 1960s and 1970s his work became dominated by wooden, terracotta, marble and stone forms, cylindrical or cuboid in shape, jutting out in relief with geometric precision from monochrome white surfaces. The interjecting lines created across the white surfaces by shadow and light evoke the interplay of alternating modes of rationality and chaos, fullness and emptiness. The three-dimensional constructions are meticulous in their use of color and form, simultaneously minimalist in order and expansive in their study of volume and light.

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Painted wood.
24 x 12 x 2 1/2 in. (61 x 30.5 x 6.4 cm).
Signed, dated and numbered "Camargo, Paris 1967 no. 117" on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $398,500

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York