Willys de Castro - Latin America New York Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection of Paulo Rogério Pinheiro Machado

  • Catalogue Essay

    Willys de Castro was born in 1926 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. He moved to São Paulo in 1941, becoming a painter towards the end of that decade. He began working with geometrical-abstract paintings in 1950 and by 1953 had become associated with the emergent Concrete art movement that arose following the impact that the Swiss artists represented at the first São Paulo Biennial in 1951 had on the local artistic circuit.

    In 1958 he travelled to Europe and, upon his return to Brazil the following year, he became associated with the rebel Neo-Concrete artists from Rio de Janeiro who were rejecting what they saw as the rigidity and dogmatic character of Concretism. He participated in the early Neo-Concrete exhibitions in Salvador, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, between 1959 and 1961. Despite this affiliation, together with other Neo-Concrete colleagues such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Pape, he was invited by Max Bill to participate in the exhibition Konkrete Kunst in Zurich 1960 which offered a worldwide survey of Concrete art.

    Willys de Castro is best known for his early 1960s Objetos Ativos works, in which the artist combined elements of painting and sculpture. In doing so, he followed what the art critic Ferreira Gullar foresaw as one of the main characteristics of Neo-Concrete art, the fact that painting and sculpture were becoming increasingly indistinguishable. According to Gullar, Willys de Castro reconfigured the conflict between the two-dimensional surface and the depth of space, whereby time – in so far as the spectator is required to move around the object – reveals the two-dimensional character of three-dimensional space.

    In Study for a painting, dated 1956, we find Willys de Castro exploring the ‘concrete’ possibilities of sequences and rhythms through the use of a single form repeated in different positions across the composition. If we find a certain approximation to Oiticica’s almost contemporaneous Metaesquemas, it is because there was a common set of goals determined by the premises of concrete art.

    In 2001 the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo inaugurated a permanent space for Willys de Castro’s work. The collection contains a total of 43 items including paintings, prints and drawings.



Final study for painting N°112

July/August 1956
Gouache and pencil on graph paper.
27 1/2 x 27 1/2 in. (70 x 70 cm).
Signed, titled and dated "Willys de Castro, pintura 112, Julho/Agosto- 1956" lower left.

$220,000 - 280,000 

Latin America

14 & 15 November 2011
New York