Lygia Clark

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Lygia Clark
Born (1920-10-23)October 23, 1920
Belo Horizonte
Died April 25, 1988(1988-04-25) (aged 67)
Rio de Janeiro
Nationality Brazilian
Known for Painting, Installation art

Lygia Clark (Belo Horizonte, October 23, 1920 – Rio de Janeiro, April 25, 1988) was a Brazilian artist best known for her painting and installation work. She was often associated with the Brazilian Constructivist movements of the mid-20th century and the Tropicalia movement. Even with the changes in how she approached her artwork, she did not stray far from her Constructivist roots. Along with Brazilian artists Amilcar de Castro, Franz Weissmann, Lygia Pape and poet Ferreira Gullar, Clark co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement. The Neo-Concretists believed that art ought to be subjective and organic. Throughout her career trajectory, Clark discovered ways for museum goers (who would later be referred to as "participants") to interact with her art works. She sought to redefine the relationship between art and society. Clark's works dealt with inner life and feelings.

Life[edit]

In 1920, Lygia Clark was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais Brazil.[1] Clark became an artist in 1947. In this year, she moved to Rio de Janeiro to study with Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.[2] Between 1950 and 1952, she studied with Isaac Dobrinsky, Fernand Léger and Arpad Szenes in Paris.[1] In 1953, she became one of the founding members of Rio's Frente group of artists. In 1957, Clark participated in Rio de Janeiro's first National Concrete Art Exhibition.[2] This would be one of Clark's frequent trips to Brazil in order to exhibit her artwork.

In the first decade of her career, Clark devoted her time to painting and sculpture.[citation needed] After 1966, Clark claimed to have abandoned art.[3] In the early 1970s, she taught art at the Sorbonne.[1] During this time, Clark also explored the idea of sensory perception through her art. Her art became a multisensory experience in which the spectator became an active participant. Between 1979 and 1988, Clark moved more toward art therapy than actually creating new works. She used her art therapy to treat psychotic and mildly disturbed patients. Clark returned to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1977. In 1988, she died of a heart attack in her home.[2]

Some critics say her artwork presaged the modern digital information era. Her later works were more abstract and holistic with a focus on psychotherapy and healing.

Stylistic Periods[edit]

During the early part of Clark's career, she focused on creating small monochromatic paintings which were done in black, gray, and white.[4] She would then move on to create neo-constructivist sculptures. During the 1960s, her work became more conceptual and she used soft objects that could be manipulated by the art spectator. Clark later moved on to co-found the Neo-Concrete movement, which was joined by fellow Brazilian Hélio Oiticica. Throughout her career, Clark's art would evolve as if she had unanswered questions about her art's effect on spectators. One of her goals, through her artwork, was to answer all of her questions. The purpose of her art was to appeal to the average, everyday person, not just the bourgeois crowd.

As previously mentioned, Clark and Oiticica co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement. The Neo-Concretists believed that art was subjective and organic.[2] In Clark’s writings, she articulates that an artwork should not be considered “a ‘machine’ nor an ‘object,’ but rather, an almost-body” which can only be made whole through viewer participation.[5] Neo-Concretists believed that an artwork should be manipulated by the spectator and that art could be used to “express complex human realities.”[6] The Neo-Concretists believed artworks should interact with the spectator and make the spectator more aware of his or her physical body and metaphysical existence.

They utilized 3-dimensional moveable figures so that the spectator, in essence, becomes the artist. One example of this kind of artwork is Clark’s Bicho, a movable golden metal object with hinges. Viewer participation was essential for the artwork to be complete. Clark describes this exchange between viewer and Bicho as a dialogue between two living organisms.[5] In addition, Neo-Concretists looked to push the limits of what art represented. The art is the actual process of doing. It is during this interaction that the spectator truly experiences what the artwork means.

In the late 1950s, Clark and Oiticica fused modern European geometric abstraction art with a Brazilian cultural flavor. The Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement borrowed their artistic ideas from Max Bill who was the director of the Ulm Superior School of Form in Germany during the early 1950s.[4] One of the goals of this newest artistic group was to create worldly, modern art as opposed to the provincial style currently popular in Brazil. The Neo-Concretists wanted art to be intuitive, yet expressive and subjective.

During 1960s-1970s Brazil, there was a counter-cultural movement that persisted even after the country was ruled under a military dictatorship. At this point in time, Institutional Act Number 5 (aka AI5) was enacted and artists were forced into exile.[7] Many artists fled Brazil simply because they were unable to deal with the current political situation. Clark spent these years in Paris where she taught at the Sorbonne. She developed her more famous interactive works with her students.

During the 1970s, Clark explored the role of sensory perception and psychic interaction that the participants would have with her artwork. She referred to this as "ritual without myth".[4] For Clark, art work would have no representative meaning outside of its manipulation by the participants. Participants would take the art objects and fashion them in any way that they pleased. At this point, the line between the participant and art work would become blurred. The participants would become one with the art piece. In a sense, the participant and art work would become fused. In the final years of her career, Clark focused solely on psychotherapy and the use of art in healing patients. Clark's objective through her art was to surpass each phase since ideas that were originally considered groundbreaking were outdated with regard to her latter works.

Clark's later, more famous works were viewed as "living experiences." Clark's interactive art period lasted three decades .[8] She did not separate the mind from the body and believed that art should be experienced through all five senses. After 1963, Clark's work could no longer exist outside of a participant's experience.[7] Her art became an interactive experience. She believed that a viewer (also known as a "participant") served an active and important function in the art world. This is one reason Clark's work cannot be adequately enjoyed at a museum. In most museums, works are affixed to a stand or on the wall. Clark's works were meant to be manipulated by the viewer/participant. Her belief was that art should be a multi-sensory experience, not just one enjoyed through the eyes.

One of her most recognized interactive art pieces is Baba Antropofágica. This piece was inspired by a dream that Clark had about an anonymous substance that streamed out from her mouth. This experience was not a pleasurable one for Clark. She viewed it as the vomiting of a lived experience that, in turn, was swallowed by others.[8] In a sense, Clark seemed to view this atrocity as a way of displaying its freedom. One of Clark's (and for that matter, Oiticica) aims was to create art directed toward a larger world audience, drawing attention toward its social issues thus achieving as sense of cultural freedom. For her interactive art pieces, Clark always used inexpensive everyday objects. These objects would then only have significance if they came into direct contact with a participant's body.

In the latter part of her career, Clark focused more on art therapy and less on the actual creation of a work. When she returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1976, Clark's therapeutic focus rest upon the memory of trauma.[7] She wanted to uncover why the power of certain objects brought about a vivid memory in her psychotherapy patients so that she could treat their psychosis. Depending upon the individual, the sessions could be short-term or longterm. Treatment came about through the relationship between the relationship object and how the participant interpreted its meaning.

Exhibitions[edit]

  • 1959 - Bienal, São Paulo
  • 1960 - Venice Biennale, Venice
  • 1960 - Konkrete Kunst, Zürich
  • 1961 - Bienal, São Paulo
  • 1962 - Venice Biennale, Venice
  • 1963 - Bienal, São Paulo
  • 1964 - Signals Gallery, London
  • 1964 - Mouvement II, Paris
  • 1965 - Signals Gallery, London
  • 1965 - Paco Imperial, Rio de Janeiro
  • 1967 - Bienal, São Paulo
  • 1968 - Retrospective, Venice Biennale, Venice
  • 1986 - Retrospective (with Hélio Oiticica), Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro
  • 1997 - Documenta, Kassel
  • 2000 - Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2001 - Brazil: Body and Soul, New York, Guggenheim Museum
  • 2001 - 7th International Istanbul Biennial – Sala especial, Istanbul
  • 2002 - Brazil: Body and Soul, Guggenheim Museum, New York
  • 2003 - Pulse: Art, Healing and Transformation, ICA, Boston,
  • 2004 - Pensamento Mudo, Dan Galeria
  • 2004 - Artists' Favourites, ICA - London
  • 2005 - 50 Jahre/Years DOCUMENTA: 1955-2005, Kunsthalle Fridericiaum Kassel
  • 2005 - Lygia Clark, da obra ao acontecimento: somos o molde, a você cabe o sopro..., Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes
  • 2005 - Tropicália: a revolution in Brazilian Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • 2006 - Barbican, London
  • 2006-07 - Bronx Museum of the Art, New York
  • 2007 - WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, MOCA, Los Angeles

Note: Clark's later works were interactive pieces which made it difficult for museum curators to properly display them in their institutions. Consequently, her works from the late 1960s onward have not been seen in art exhibitions.

Collections[edit]

Clark's work is held in collections worldwide including MoMA, New York, Tate Modern, London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; MAM, Rio de Janeiro, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid and Centre Pompidou, Paris.[9]

Art market[edit]

At Sotheby’s in 2014, Clark’s aluminium folding sculpture Bicho-Em-Si-Md (No. IV) (1960) was sold at $1.2 million, doubling its high estimate of $600,000.[10]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Guy Brett, "The Proposal of Lygia Clark". In: Catherine de Zegher (ed.), Inside the Visible. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston & MIT Press, 1996.
  • Lygia Clark, "Nostalgia of the Body". In: October. The Second Decade, 1986-1996. October Books / MIT Press, 1997.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kristin G. Congdon; Kara Kelley Hallmark (30 October 2002). Artists from Latin American cultures: a biographical dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-313-31544-2. Retrieved 18 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Lygia Clark" on the Coleccíon Cisneros website http://www/coleccioncisneros.org
  3. ^ Ken Johnson (May 2, 2014), See It, Feel It, Touch It, Be Healed New York Times.
  4. ^ a b c Brett Guy, "Lygia Clark: In Search of the Body," Art in America (July 1994): http://www.encyclopedia.com/printable.aspx?id=1G1:15570360
  5. ^ a b Bois, Yve-Alain and Lygia Clark. “Nostalgia of the Body.” The MIT Press 69 (Summer 1994): 85-109.
  6. ^ Gullar, Ferreira. “Neo-Concrete Manifesto.” History of Modern Latin American Art Course Reader. Spokane: Whitworth University, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Suely Rolnik, "The Body's Contagious Memory; Lygia Clark’s Return to the Museum," translated by Rodrigo Nunes, Transversal (January 2007): http://eipcp.net/transversal/0507/rolnik/en
  8. ^ a b Simone Osthoff, "Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica: A Legacy of Interactivity and Participation for a Telematic Future," Leonardo, Vol. 30, No. 4. (1997), 279-289: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0024-094X%281997%293%3A4%3C279%3ALCAHOA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1
  9. ^ Lygia Clark Alison Jacques Gallery, London.
  10. ^ Laurie Rojas (May 29, 2014), Lygia Clark’s critters crawl to top auction spot The Art Newspaper.

External links[edit]