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    Synopsis

    The Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor reviews A casa é o Corpo (1968), the installation by the Brazilian neo-concrete artist Lygia Clark. Amor explains that this work addresses Clark’s major preoccupations during the 1960s, which centered on her interests in the organic world and architecture. Amor adds that this work is a clear expression of Clark’s intention to dissolve the object, which prompted her attempts to rediscover the body and underscore both its precarious nature and its presence in other artists’ work.

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    The Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor reviews A casa é o Corpo (1968), the installation by the Brazilian neo-concrete artist Lygia Clark (b. Belo Horizonte, 1920; d. Rio de Janeiro, 1988). A casa was designed as an installation in which participants immersed themselves in compartments that evoked the various phases of intrauterine conception, growth and birth; participants were subjected to a labyrinthine, phantasmagorical, and elusive process intended as a metaphorical experience of “re-birth.” Amor explains that this work addresses Clark’s major preoccupations during the 1960s, which centered on her interests in the organic world and architecture, and is a clear expression of her intention to dissolve the object. This exploration, which was originally inspired by Clark’s neo-concrete interest in phenomenology, and subsequently by her desire to break free of the routine of mechanization, repetition, and automatism, led her to concentrate on the human body. Amor also stresses that Clark considered her post-objectual work to be political and social. She explains that Clark’s “propositions” sought to rediscover the human body and underscore both its precarious nature and its presence in other artists’ work. Amor explains that, in Clark’s view, the world was a bicho [bug] where human beings could construct small architectural structures among its extremities, on its thorax, and in its body. Human beings were supposed to enter the belly of this world/animal in order to become part of the whole. The link between human beings and the world was a constant factor in Clark’s thinking, and she built the A casa installation as a space devoted to self-consciousness, creativity, and recreation.      

     

    Amor explains that Clark, and other Brazilian artists at the time, sought to dissolve the art object; this idea had been broached by the Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar (José Ribamar Ferreira, b. São Luís, Maranhão, 1930; d. Rio de Janeiro, 2016) in his influential essay “Teoria do Não-Objeto” [Theory of the Non-Object] (1959) [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1091374)]. Amor claims that Gullar’s essay had a powerful impact on the development of the Brazilian avant-garde and on the artistic dialogue that Clark and her colleague Hélio Oiticica (b. Rio de Janeiro, 1937; d. Rio de Janeiro, 1980) maintained from 1959 through 1964, as she explains in her article “From Work to Frame, In-between, and Beyond: Lygia Clark’s and Hélio Oiticica’s work 1959–1964” (2010) (doc. no. 1281344).

     

    Clark began studying art in 1947 in Rio de Janeiro with Roberto Burle Marx and Zélia Salgado. In 1950 she went to Paris, where she studied with Arpad Szènes, Dobrinsky, and Fernand Léger. She returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1952 and, together with the abstract painter Ivan Serpa, was one of the founding members of the Grupo Frente (1954), a group of artists that rejected the strain of figuration and nationalism that dominated modernist Brazilian painting at the time. At the 1956 exhibition “I Exposição Nacional de Arte Concreta: 2 - O grupo do Rio” (doc. no. 1090217), Gullar reviewed the works shown by Clark and other participating artists. In 1958 some of the members of the Grupo Frente, including Clark and Lygia Pape, formed the influential Neoconcreto movement in response to the rationalism of the Movimiento Concreto and called for greater creative freedom. In 1959, Clark took part in the “I Exposição de Arte Neoconcreta” in Rio and signed the “Manifesto Neoconcreto” (doc. no. 1110328) along with Amilcar de Castro, Gullar, Franz Weissmann, Lygia Pape, Reynaldo Jardim, and Theon Spanudis. Gullar wrote the manifesto which was then signed by the members of the group, who also took part in the above-mentioned exhibition.

     

    Mónica Amor is an art critic, curator, and professor of modern and contemporary art at Maryland Institute College of Art. She studies works of art that enjoy a certain architectural influence, such as those by the German-born Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, b. Hamburg, 1912; d. Caracas, 1994). In her article “Entre espacios: la Reticulárea y su lugar en la historia” (2003) Amor makes some interesting connections between works produced by Gego, Eva Hesse, and Lygia Clark (doc. no. 1281456).