Sergio Camargo - Latin America New York Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Private Collection, Europe

  • Catalogue Essay

    Approaching a white relief by Camargo, we are dazzled by its aura. We only gradually penetrate back from the work, through the cognitive process, to the central meaning.
    Guy Brett, 1966

    Untitled (Relief No. 347), 1971, is exemplary of Camargo’s penchant for confronting the limits of modernity both aesthetically and philosophically. Composed of diagonally-cut wooden cylinders set atop a flat wooden board, the all-white reliefs provide a kinetic experience indebted at once to historical Constructivism and the minimalist monochromes of his predecessors and mentors Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein and Constantin Brancusi. Cognizant of his peers’ struggle to rid themselves of prewar perspectives that were no longer relevant, Camargo engaged in formal experiments with volume and space, abandoning representation as he constructed what would become his signature wood reliefs. In so doing, the artist radicalized the concept of structural objectivity as it had been known and set in motion a new dialogue on spatial relationships rooted largely between the materiality of the wood cylinders and the conceptual space they project.

    “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 University Press, 1989, pp. 270-275)

    By 1971, Camargo’s reliefs had achieved their formal apex: the carved wooden cylinders, projecting at a multiplicity of angles, create a stunning puzzle through an exchange of light and shadow around each module. The quiet of the monochromatic white surface comes into direct contrast with the frenzied patternless forms that protrude from it. The dichotomy is symptomatic of the artist’s meditations on balance and chaos, order and disintegration.

    This philosophical perceptiveness in tandem with Camargo’s experimental spirit permeates the entirety of his artistic production. Camargo understood his reliefs as intellectual products that were conscious reflections of the world in which they were created and historically situated there within. In the midst of widespread violence, political oppression, philosophical uncertainty and technological innovation, Camargo, like other artists, sought to redefine what the concept of art-making truly meant. While the sculptural reliefs acknowledge the precedents of his mentors, from the Argentines Fontana and Pettoruti to the Europeans Klein and Brancusi, this explicit awareness and hybridization of forms distinguishes the work both in concept and in form and engages a new dialogue with the generation of artists that would follow.

  • 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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Untitled (Relief No. 347)

painted wood
24 1/4 x 20 x 1 in. (61.6 x 50.8 x 2.5 cm.)
Signed, inscribed and dated "Camargo Paris 71 No. 347" on the reverse. This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Galeria Raquel Arnaud, numbered 11451.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $785,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Head of Latin America Sale
+ 1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York 21 November 2013 4pm