New York City, NY
The first monographic exhibition in the United States devoted to Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927–2004). A critical figure in the development of Brazilian modern art, Pape combined geometric abstraction with notions of body, time, and space in unique ways that radically transformed the nature of the art object in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Covering a prolific, unclassifiable career that spanned five decades, the exhibition will examine Pape’s extraordinarily rich oeuvre as manifest across varied media, from sculpture, prints, and painting to installation, photography, performance, and film.
Alongside Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape is one of the most prominent artists of her generation and was a leading protagonist at a crucial moment for the history of art in Brazil. During the intense industrialization the country experienced following World War II, concrete and constructivist trends emerged and overtook realism, which had been the dominant art trend. Pape was part of the Concrete movement (Grupo Frente) in Rio de Janeiro, reworking the legacies of geometric abstraction. It then evolved in 1959 into the Neo-Concrete movement, aimed at giving priority to experimentation and process over any normative principle. She was among the first to consider integrating the space of the artwork with the space of the viewer, a breakthrough moment in 20th-century art.
The exhibition will include a selection of paintings, woodcuts, and reliefs from the 1950s; a section devoted to her series of experimental books, including Book of Creation (1959–60), Book of Time (1961–63), and Book of Architecture (1959–60) — prime examples from the Neo-Concrete movement; and examples of Pape’s performance and participatory works, such as her memorable living sculptures Divider (1968) and Wheel of Delights (1968), and installations such as Ttéia (1976–2011). Popular culture and the vernacular were essential reference points in Pape’s work, and the exhibition will bring together her photographic series of urban life in Rio de Janeiro, Magnetized Spaces (1982) and Maré’s Favela (1974–76). Brazil’s natural landscape as well as the history of the indigenous population informed the sculptures Amazoninos (1989–1992) and Tupinambá Mantel (1996–2000), a series. Finally, the exhibition will present selections of her experimental films and collaborative work with the influential filmmakers of Cinema Novo.
Exhibition overview from museum website