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Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms at The Met Breuer, March 21 – July 23, 2017

29 de abril de 2017

“This exhibition is the first U.S. retrospective of the work of Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927–2004). After World War II, Brazil underwent a period of rapid industrialization and development, epitomized by the inauguration in 1960 of a new modern capital, Brasília. Pape took part in the effervescent cultural milieu of the time, which enthusiastically embraced the legacies of European modernism. In particular, as a member of Grupo Frente (1954–57), a coalition of artists practicing a trend in abstraction based on geometric forms and pure colors, she engaged the vocabulary of the Concrete art movement. Departing from the rigors imposed by the group, in 1959 Pape, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, and others founded the Neoconcrete movement in Rio de Janeiro, which still focused on geometric abstraction but with an emphasis on experimentation, process, and viewer interaction.

Although Pape is best known for her role in this artistic breakthrough, throughout her long, prolific career she continued to pursue the avant-garde ideals of integrating art and life, specifically the formal language of abstraction and the everyday life of her adopted city of Rio. After Brazil’s 1964 coup, Pape remained committed to experimentation while living under the dictatorship that ruled her country until 1985. Her engagement with a wide range of media and forms of expression—from painting and prints to poetry, film, installation, photography, teaching, and performance—attests to Pape’s unclassifiable trajectory and vitality.” — Introductory Wall Text

Exhibition entrance

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Series of Relevo (Relief), 1954–1956

Top: Series of woodcuts on Japanese paper: Tecelar, 1957-1960

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Top left: Desenho (Drawing), 1955. Top right: Tecelar, 1959

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Livro noite e dia (Night and Day Book) (detail), 1963–1976

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Livro dos caminhos (Posfácio #1, #3, #4, #5) (Book of Paths [Afterword #1, #3, #4, #5]), 1963–1976

Installation view of Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms

Roda dos prazeres (Wheel of Pleasures), 1967

Livro do tempo (Book of Time), 1961–1963

Left: Amazonino, 1991-1992. Center: Banquete tupinambá (Tupinambá Banquet), 2000. Right: Amazonino (Mangueira), 1992

Left: Amazonino, 1992. Right: Amazonino (Verde) (Amazonino [Green]), 1990

Ttéia 1, C, 1976-2004, reconstructed 2017

Ttéia 1, C, 1976-2004, reconstructed 2017

Ttéia 1, C (detail), 1976-2004, reconstructed 2017

Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms is organized by Iria Candela, Estrellita B. Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met. It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with Projeto Lygia Pape.

Lygia Pape “A Multitude of Forms” is Jeitinho art

29 de abril de 2017

Lygia Pape “A Multitude of Forms” is Jeitinho art [Review]

Lygia Pape is easily one of the three most important Brazilian artists of the 20th century. Being Latin American, her work has been largely overlooked, but Pape is arguably one of THE important 20th century artists from anywhere.


Lygia Pape is one of the mothers of performance art, and the political nature of her work gives her special relevance to our time.

“Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms” at the Met Breuer March 21 – July 23, 2017 is the first retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States.

Exhibitions like this take several years to put together. You have to give credit to the Met and Latin American Art Curator Iria Candela for calling this exhibition into life at the perfect moment in history. Great art is like that. Artists are always ahead of the society in which they live.


“Jeitinho” is the Brazilian way of making something from nothing – and getting things done even when you can’t. It’s the cleverness that is required to live when you are poor, or when the commercial and political institutions in your society fail.

Jeito Brasileiro is not only part of the Brazilian character. Most Latin countries suffer from the failure of their political institutions. Today our own country is suffering the same failures. That gives Pape’s work special relevance to us in this time.

The Brazilian Context

Even though Pape’s work has universal relevance, she is essentially Brazilian. To understand her work, it helps to have some background on Brazilian culture.

Before World War II, Brazil was a backwater. The 1930s were the glory years of Rio de Janeiro. It was a beautiful, unspoiled playground for the rich and famous.

Post-War Boom

Brazil went through a post-war boom that changed the country tremendously. It started the process of urbanization in a huge, very rural country. In a country that suffers from post-colonial social stratification, there was hope that everyone would benefit.

Somehow the concrete architecture that came with that has entered the Brazilian psyche. You see the influence of Brazilian architecture in both art, film, interior design, and even fashion.

Perhaps architecture’s influence comes from the optimism of the time, and the later failure of hope. There was a belief that architectural design could create a utopian future. But in a way, it only created an abstraction of life. It replaced the rich diversity of the jungle or the street with bare concrete walls.

You see it in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital built from scratch in the middle of nowhere that looks like a sci-fi movie set. By the way, Oscar Niemeyer, the chief architect of Brasilia, also co-designed the United Nations.

The post-war boom benefited many Brazilians, but left most outside the system, left outside in a way that is unimaginable for an American of the U.S.

For example, you need an education to get a job, but you need papers to get an education, but you were born in the jungle so you don’t have papers, but to get papers you need money, but to get money you need a job.

Jeitinho is the only way to survive.

Social Stratification

Another important context is the deep social stratification left over from colonial power structures that advantaged light-skinned Brazilians with a European heritage and excluded people of color. Brazil is the Blackest country outside of Africa. It’s a big deal.

The imbalance is huge. I can’t give you an academic number, but it’s something on the order of 20% of Brazilians live inside society and 80% live outside.

Brazilians sought to rebalance society through socialist ideas. At the height of the Cold War we were looking for Communists under the bed so we helped topple the Brazilian government in 1964.

Military Dictatorship

Ideological pursuits are Quixotian tasks that bring out the worst in the pursuer.

Brazil lived through a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Openly complaining could make you die or disappear into a jail system where Inquisition-style sadism was updated with the latest technology.

During this time artists began speaking in code, a code that everybody understood, but that didn’t directly criticize the government. Even so, many had to flee the country.

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso are giants of Brazilian popular music who went through the cycle of speaking in code in their music, being put in jail, and then leaving the country.

Global Youth Revolution

1968 was a year when the energy of the world’s youth reached critical mass and exploded. There was serious civil unrest and the stirrings of social change in the United States, France, Czechoslovakia, México, and also Brazil.

In the last thirty years, Brazil has been making progress. There was great optimism until the financial crisis of 2016.

Looking at Brazilian post-war history, you can’t help but see echoes of the Brazilian experience in what’s happening in the United States today. We are experiencing a failing government that wants to build up the military.

Brazilian Art

Brazil has a rich history of Indigenous art, but modern Brazilian art goes back to the Rococo style brought by the Portuguese. Rococo is way over the top, super-ornate, religious decoration. Even though it is very conservative, it’s religious ecstacy on drugs. It’s Carnaval.

Concrete Art

One hundred years ago, Constructivism came out of Russia. The clean lines of Constructivism influenced graphic design. But it was also abstract art with a social purpose. From this we get Bauhaus and Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who was a major influence on modern architecture and co-designer with Niemeyer of the United Nations.

A major legacy of Le Corusier is the cold suburban style of concrete architecture for cars that killed the humanity of street life. Think New York projects and Brazilian concrete architecture. It makes beautiful architectural models, but is horrible to live in.

In the 1930s, close to the end of the Modern period, Concrete Art rose in Europe. It’s abstraction with no reference to natural forms. It’s geometric and very architectural. It’s art for art’s sake.

Concrete Art came to Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s through Grupo Frente, an artist collective which included Lygia Pape, Lygia Clark, and Helio Oiticica. Concrete Art is the opposite of Rococo, but it doesn’t really fit the Brazilian character.

Neo-Concrete Art

Pape, Clark, and Oiticica evolved their thinking into the Neo-Concrete Movement. Neo-Concrete art involves the viewer. Like all Latins, Brazilians are very social people, a society of groups, not of individuals. We don’t want to just look at art, we want to participate. And we want our friends and family to participate too. Let’s do art – together. We don’t want to just see art, we want to be art. We are not shy.

The Neo-Concrete artists humanized abstraction. True to their Concrete roots, they didn’t mirror natural forms, but they brought abstraction into the lives of the people.

From here Pape, Clark, and Oiticica went in slightly different directions.

Pape used her art to make political statements. Other artists left Brazil, but Pape stayed. She even went to prison for a while. Pape experimented with experiences. That made her a mother of performance art. They didn’t it that because “performance art” is a New York term, but Pape was right there at the beginning of time.

Clark used her art for therapy. She even left the art world to become a therapist.

Oiticica embraced the excluded underclass.

All three artists involved people. We don’t do things alone. And we are very tactile. We want to touch it, and feel it, and hear it, smell it. We want to taste the art.

Lygia Pape in New York City

Divisor (Divider)

The Met is reenacting Pape’s Divisor (Divider) on Saturday, March 25, 2017 from 11am – 12pm.

The performance is an early form of social media, Brazilian style. It cannot exist without people. The white picture plane broken by the heads of participants seems to say that what divides us can also unite us. The possibilities invited by the white canvas are up to us. The reennactment will walk from the Met Fifth Avenue to the Met Breuer. Join it and become part of art history.

A Multitude of Forms

The exhibition walks you through the arc of Pape’s always expanding thinking about what art is. It begins in Pape’s Concrete period when she translated Constructivist geometric abstractions in familiar planes, but with a Brazilian eye.

The exhibition ends with Pape’s Neoconcretist ideas that made her art experiental and took it out of the picture plane. Pape is really one of the mother’s of performance art.

During the year’s of Brazil’s dictatorship (1964 to 1985), Pape was one of the voices who critiqued what was happening through the indirect language of art. Unlike many other artists, she stayed in Brazil.

The exhibition shows a surprisingly broad range of experimentation that is threaded together by the primary forms and colors of Constructivism. Pape’s playfulness is essentially Brazilian.

It has to be said that the Met Breuer is the perfect venue for a Lygia Pape exhibition. The building itself, designed by Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer, is a modernist statement.

One leaves the show with the realization that our Euro-centric point of view caused us to overlook, until now, really strong and important work being done in the Americas.

Pape and other artists in her framework rejected elitist ideas of art. They believed that art was for everyone and should connect people together.

Their point of view begs the question of what we as Americans should be doing now to protect and preserve our democracy.

Channeling Lygia Pape’s Radical Relationship to Space

29 de abril de 2017


Performance of Lygia Pape’s “Divisor” (“Divider”) (1968) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in March 2017 (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

On Saturday morning, I was jittery over the idea of walking down Madison Avenue under a giant white sheet. Together with some 225 people, I was going to reenact Lygia Pape‘s 1968 performance “Divisor” (“Divider,” 1968). Pape, a Brazilian artist who was born in 1927 in Rio de Janeiro, where she also died in 2004, performed this piece during the military dictatorship, first with children from favelas and later in the gardens surrounding Rio’s Museum of Modern Art. The 50-by-50 foot sheet is cut with slits for participants to fit their heads through, so that everyone moves through a single piece of fabric. The Met Breuer, which is currently holding a beautiful retrospective on the artist titled A Multitude of Forms, organized the performance from Madison and 75th Street to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 81st and Fifth Avenue. The idea seemed nothing less than surreal, to momentarily interrupt the flow of the city with a white square punctured and shuffled along by people.

Performance of Lygia Pape’s “Divisor” (“Divider”) along Madison Avenue (photo by Travis Magee)

But this is not, exactly, what happened. We were sadly given only one lane of traffic, which meant that the sheet was not entirely unfolded, accommodating only 60 people. The rectangle of fabric sagged between us, rather than appearing taut and expansive as I’d seen in archival footage. Police and Met staff were on either end of us, making sure we kept within our limits, watching out for the cars and curb. This, to me, defeated the point of the whole thing. We were supposed to take over the street, not be dictated by its laws.

When participants first slipped under the sheet, they laughed and talked with their neighbors, and took many selfies (we were told that once we got moving, we weren’t allowed to snap photos, but that rule went quickly out the window). We were given instructions about our route via a megaphone, and Met staff members led the performance with plaques written “Divisor” across them, as though we were a pack of tourists.

Given all these formalities, which I realize may have been legally necessary, we might as well have had some discussion on the actual performance. Because once we got going, participants went relatively quiet, walking at a steady pace, when “Divisor” is designed for people to move animatedly within it, and play with the fabric that connects them. The curator of the Lygia Pape exhibition, Iria Candela, tried to encourage participants to jump and cheer, but any wave of excitement quickly subsided.

Despite all this, it did feel like we were one organism, adapting to one another’s tugs and pulls, at once hyperaware of our individual impact and drawn by the collective current. Though it wasn’t until we stationed ourselves in the plaza in front of the Metropolitan Museum that we gained a glimpse of what the performance was meant to be like. There, we had the space to unravel the sheet, and onlookers were invited to fill in the remaining slits. It was is if a weight had been lifted, the white of the sheet joyously reflecting the light that enveloped our floating heads. Someone from the Met gave us instructions (via his megaphone): “Jump!” “Turn clockwise!” The effects were gratifying, even if the process felt somewhat stilted.

Lygia Pape’s “Divisor” (“Divider”) (1968) in Rio de Janeiro

Recent reenactments, in Hong Kong and Lisbon for instance (staged by the nonprofit space Para Site and Galeria Graça Brandão, respectively), have appeared to be more successful in that they were at least able to spread open the sheet. In Lisbon, it was taken to a public square, where passerby had to activate the fabric. In New York, it would’ve been more interesting to open up the demographic beyond art worlders and Met members (who tend to fill up the museum’s events quickly, since they are kept apprised and can register early), considering the piece offers a good deal of potential to create connections, and expose differences, between strangers.

Pape did, at first, envision the performance in a gallery setting, with the added element of hot air being blown from below the sheet. But she ultimately decided to take the project to the streets. Staged during the military dictatorship, “Divisor” gave people agency to move through public space en masse during a time when protests were suppressed and the streets surveilled.

Both in the US and in Brazil, people (myself included) have taken to occupying the streets with greater fervor and urgency. Both countries are being run by unpopular leaders: In Brazil, Michel Temer became president after Dilma Rousseff was impeached and his all-male cabinet readily implemented longstanding austerity measures; and in the US, we have, well, Donald Trump. The wealth of grievances against the Trump administration have brought people of various backgrounds to protest on major avenues in cities like New York. This context only exacerbated my disappointment with the “Divisor” reenactment. While it did not need to be an act of dissent — I would not expect that from the Metropolitan — to participate in a public art performance that essentially shoves you to the curb is needless to say frustrating during a time when many of us are eager to make our presence felt.

Lygia Pape, “Book of Paths” (1963–76)

As the Met exhibition makes clear, Pape’s art is precisely about heightening our senses and engendering awareness of how we situate ourselves in space. In the 1970s, she taught architecture at the Universidade Santa Úrsula in Rio de Janeiro, where she made a point of having students study favelas and improvised architecture. Together with her friend, the artist Hélio Oiticica, she explored the margins of the city, developing a particular fascination for street vendors. In a similar vein, she took to studying Brazil’s neglected indigenous cultures, inspired by their devotion to crafts. This turn toward popular culture and indigenous roots in Brazilian art in part sprung from a sense of disillusionment: the dictatorship had crushed the modern, utopian promises of the previous decade. It was difficult to imagine that a dictatorship would follow four years after the new capital, Brasília, was constructed under Oscar Niemeyer‘s design.

Lygia Pape, “Tecelar” (1957) and “Tecelar” (1957)

Pape started out as a Concrete artist in the ’50s, making primarily wood reliefs and engravings of oscillating and dislodged geometric shapes. In a 1997 interview, she cited  her artistic “passions,” among them Piet Mondrian, Alfredo Volpi, and Kazimir Malevich, whose visions echo in her patterns, which are enlarged in the giant canvas that is “Divisor.” One of her 1957 engravings (all of them titled “Tecelar”), on view here, uncannily prefigures the buildings of Niemeyer’s Brasília with their half-moon shapes.

In 1959, she joined the Neoconcrete movement with her friends Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, making work that was more sensual, enveloping, and musical. In her childhood home, Pape grew up surrounded by singing birds, among them 30 toucans and 50 macaws — an anecdote I love, as it feels apt in these galleries inhabited by colorful and dynamic objects that often lift in places like wings and are arranged in multiples, like small colonies. Her famous work “Book of Time” (1961–63), here installed on one large wall, seems to present a whole new species, with 365 wooden reliefs abstractly representing each day of the year.

Lygia Pape, “Book of Time” (1961–63) (detail)

Often, when looking at Pape’s work from this period, I think about how I would like to shrink and walk among her constructions, like “The Book of Architecture” (1959–60), one of many of her works that allude to reading and books. In it, a series of paper sculptures that look a bit like pop-ups illustrate the hallmarks of architecture, from the Egyptian pyramids to the Roman arch.

Lygia Pape, “Book of Architecture” (1959–60) (detail)

In a performance on a beach, “The Egg” (1967), Pape inhabits her own work, placing herself inside a fragile white box and tearing through it, reborn. The work was made shortly after she started experimenting with film, when she joined the Cinema Novo movement and began making more politically charged art. One of her strongest videos is “Carnival in Rio” (1974), which zooms in and out of dancers and dressed-up characters taking over the streets, until reaching Avenida Presidente Vargas, where the police arrive and the samba beats are silenced. In line with the art of her time, Pape’s works are at once joyous, optimistic, and humorous, even as they subtly allude to the heavy context of Brazil’s repression. In 1973, she was imprisoned for three months, held in solitary confinement, and tortured for having aided people who had been persecuted.

Lygia Pape, “Ttéia 1, C” (1976–2004) (detail)

The last room of the exhibition is occupied by the magnificent “Ttéia” (1976–2004), where clusters of copper wires extend in diagonals from floor to ceiling like beams of sunlight. The room is pitch black, with only spotlights on the harp-like strings. They appear to move in very slow motion, shifting slightly as we progress around the strands that alternately glow and disappear in the dark. As with many of her works, this one is a reflection on time, how stories take shape, and how we help shape them. I think of the sheet blanketing our bodies in “Divisor,” and how it literally highlighted our movements — illuminating the connections, divisions, and stories we make every day by just walking on the streets. This mapping of our relationships to our surroundings could be transposed almost anywhere; in every space we inhabit, there is the potential to become more self-aware, to make our presence felt. This is what Pape’s work reminds us of and, when fully experienced, enables.

Lygia Pape, “Ttéia 1, C” (1976–2004) (detail)

Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms continues at the Met Breuer (945 Madison Ave, Upper East Side, Manhattan) through July 23.

Lygia Pape and Frank Stella: Separated at Birth?

29 de abril de 2017

THE DAILY PIC (#1776): Any fans of pared-down abstraction visiting “Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms,” now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be bowled over by the astounding resemblance between Pape’s 1956 woodcut called Tecelar and the pinstripe paintings that Frank Stella did a very few years later in New York.

I’m not saying that Stella copied Pape; I doubt he would have had access to her art. It just seems that particular art-historical moments spew out certain kinds of work, without the artists ever knowing that they are mere puppets of their place and time. And yes, I’m totally uncomfortable with how deterministic that sounds, but am also stuck admitting that such stylistic parallels are hard to account for otherwise.

Of course one could invoke Yve-Alain Bois’s notion of “pseudomorphism”—that works can look very similar and still mean and be utterly different things. Brazilian works by Pape and American ones by Stella, that is, may not really be as much alike as they seem. I’ve often had recourse to Bois’s idea, but it too has its problems. It seems to demand some kind of notion that works have “real” meanings that we can somehow winkle out, then use to tell true similarities from pseudomorphic ones.

But isn’t that likely to push us into the intentional fallacy, where what Pape and Stella say about their works is what establishes their meaning? And even if we refuse to go there, we’re still stuck historicizing our way to the “original meanings” of the works, in some kind of social or cultural context. That might have equally limiting results.

Following Stella’s famous dictum, it doesn’t seem wrong to imagine that, at least in the years around 1960, what you saw was, in fact, what you saw.

Lygia Pape’s Brazil, From the Beach to the Barricades

29 de abril de 2017

A replica of part of Lygia Pape’s “Livro da Criação” (“Book of Creation”), from 1959-60, in a retrospective at the Met Breuer. CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

And now, a brief update from the modernist halls of Brazilian power. The president, Michel Temer, has an approval rating of about 10 percent. The giant corruption investigation Operação Lava Jato — Operation Carwash — has ensnared dozens of members of the Brazilian political class. The country continues to endure its worst recession in history. And since the contested impeachment of Mr. Temer’s left-wing predecessor, Dilma Rousseff, the new government has amended the constitution to freeze social spending for two decades, an act that a United Nations rapporteur says “will place Brazil in a socially retrogressive category all of its own.” Outside the Met Breuer this week, at the opening of an exhibition of works by the Brazilian artist Lygia Pape, protesting expatriates denounced the Temer government as illegitimate, and warned of an “ongoing coup.”

What do you do when your government cracks, and when dreams for the future die? How should your art change when social circumstances worsen? Pape, the most experimental and restless of Brazil’s great postwar artists, offers one answer. She spent her whole life in Rio de Janeiro, and the upbeat abstract forms of her early paintings and reliefs rhyme with the buoyant mood of a nation on the move, when Brasília, a futuristic capital, was rising in the heartland. But for the bulk of her career, from 1964 to 1985, she lived and worked under a dictatorship. She was briefly imprisoned, and tortured.


Pape’s “Livro dos Caminhos” (“Book of Paths”) series at the Met Breuer. CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

New times called for a new art of public intervention, communal action, anthropological inquiry and boundless risk. Whether or not you agree with the protesters that Brazil’s current political situation amounts to a coup, her edgy, unsettled art should be a standard for artists today in Brazil, and in another large, politically fraught country in this hemisphere.

The Met Breuer’s retrospective, “Lygia Pape: A Multitude of Forms,” is the first for Pape in the United States, and it has been organized by Iria Candela, a Met curator of Latin American art. Though it’s hardly perfect — stumbling particularly with Pape’s films — it features galleries of exquisite beauty and command, especially in the early stretches.


“Roda dos Prazeros” (“Wheel of Pleasures”). CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

Pape (1927-2004) came of age as World War II ended and the authoritarian government of President Getúlio Vargas dissolved. A new, democratic Brazil was born; society exploded, the economy boomed and art responded in kind. Pape, who never studied art, joined Grupo Frente — a movement whose members included Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica — and embraced a geometric, methodical style, opposed to the Brazilian realism then in favor and drawing on the foreign abstraction seen at new museums like the Museu de Arte Moderna, which opened in Rio in 1948.

Pape’s paintings from this first period, in which rotated squares and askew, spindly lines lie in fields of white, draw heavily on the example of Soviet Constructivism. More interesting are her reliefs of the mid-1950s: blocks fitted with squares or stripes painted red, blue or yellow on different sides, so that the whole can never be fully perceived from a single angle. Exacting line drawings from that time, as well as lovely black-and-white prints of oblongs and half-moons, speak to her engagement with form as a sign of modernization, much like Oscar NiemeyerRoberto Burle Marx and the other designers of Brasília.


“Ttéia 1.”CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

Yet where artists in São Paulo often took a rigorous approach to abstraction, Pape and her Rio colleagues Clark and Oiticica were dreamier. In 1959 they veered into a more active, experimental mode they called Neo-Concretism, which prioritized participation, sensuality and the integration of art into daily life. (A copy of the Neo-Concrete Manifesto is on display here, from an age when artists still got their messages out in the Sunday paper.) Clark began her hinged bichos (critters), Oiticica made hanging wood constructions, and Pape started to make unbound books, meant to be handled, that channeled nature or the built environment into joyous abstraction.

“Livro da Criação” (“Book of Creation”), from 1959-60, comprises 16 square boards that translate prehistory into pure form: Red and white triangles suggest the discovery of fire, a folding fan stands for the invention of the wheel, and a rotating red disk symbolizes the invention of timekeeping. (You can fiddle with a replica here, fitting its cutouts together or spinning one page’s concentric rings.) Later, displayed on a cramped wall you wish were a little longer, comes the 365-element “Livro do Tempo” (“Book of Time”), 1961-63, a major work from Pape’s Neo-Concrete period whose red, yellow and blue reliefs function as a sort of abstract calendar.


An image from a staging of “Divisor” (“Divider”). CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

So Pape’s art was already taking on elements of action and personal experience before April 1, 1964, a few days before her 37th birthday. That day, a coup d’état overthrew the left-wing president João Goulart, prefiguring two decades of military rule. In the coming years, the junta’s stance on freedom of expression hardened, culminating in the notorious Institutional Act No. 5, which legalized censorship, banned protests and cleared the way for torture. So Pape, who marched against the dictatorship, veered again. “Caixa das Baratas” (“Box of Cockroaches”), from 1967, is just what it says it is: an entomological graveyard, displayed in a mirrored acrylic box.

The same year, she took a huge white sheet, sliced at regular intervals, to one of Rio’s many favelas. The children to whom she presented the sheet popped their heads through the slits, laughing and sticking out their tongues, as they unified their bodies into a collective organism that breathed and undulated, as gracefully as an octopus in the sea. “Divisor” (“Divider”) became one of Pape’s most significant artworks; she restaged it several times in 1968 in much more glamorous parts of Rio. A social sculpture, it was complete only with group participation — though it was also, in a reversal typical of ’60s Brazilian art, a biting metaphor for government surveillance and limits to freedom.


“Livro do Tempo” (“Book of Time”). CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

“Divisor” stands at the heart of this retrospective. Along with footage from the 1967 favela performance, there is a video of a re-enactment in 2010 projected on a full wall. (“Divisor” is also being restaged at 11 a.m. on Saturday, in a walk from the Met Breuer to the museum’s principal home on Fifth Avenue.) Yet the compressed installation of this show shortchanges other moving-image works, particularly her politically trenchant films of the 1970s, made while many other Brazilian artists were in exile.

Several of these films play on a loop in a tiny black box, and interesting but unessential materials, like title designs she did for Cinema Novo directors, delay the projection of major later works like “Carnival in Rio” (1974), a sociological portrait with a samba beat, and “Catiti-Catiti” (1978), a biting superimposition of Ipanema Beach glamour shots and darker texts about Brazil’s colonization. Others are shown awkwardly at waist height, or on small screens in a darkened hallway. A proper film program would have helped.


Visitors may interact with a facsimile of “Livro da Criação” (“Book of Creation”).CreditMichael Nagle for The New York Times

Much of the Breuer’s fourth floor has been cleared for a ravishing late work, “Ttéia 1,” in which hundreds of golden filaments stretch from the ceiling to a large central platform. It’s dazzling; it’s sultry; it’ll be selfie central. But don’t let it sidetrack you from Pape’s more pugnacious work with the camera, from her Super 8 footage shot in a favela on the sea to her documentary “A Mão do Povo” (“The Hand of the People”), from 1975, which contrasts indigenous Brazilian art and handicraft with consumerist junk in Brazil’s big cities.

The films, more than anything here, offer a model for how to make art when the world outside seems to demand something more urgent. “Brazil is made of perpetual disasters,” Pape said in a 1997 interview. “We build the way Penelope weaves, and then someone undoes it.”

What the times required — and what today’s Brazil, today’s America, may require, too — was neither art for art’s sake nor blunt propaganda, each in its own way a cop-out. They required an art plunged into life itself, uniting disparate figures into new fellowship, all under a common sheet.

Exemplos dos herdeiros da produção nacional

17 de outubro de 2013

A matéria “Exemplos dos herdeiros da produção nacional” na Casa Vogue 

com destaque para o acervo de Lygia Pape.






Vogue 1

vogue 2

8 Artistas contemporâneos que você precisa conhecer

9 de outubro de 2013

Matéria na Blouin ArtInfo que vale dar uma lida.

copyright Associação Cultural Projeto Lygia Pape

“Embora a arte contemporânea seja, por definição, algo em processo, é na passagem dos anos 1950 para os 1960 que discussões sobre o expressionismo abstrato e sobre o abstracionismo geométrico, na luta travada entre o concretismo e neoconcretismo, trazem um ponto de ruptura com a arte moderna, e então, o início de diversos movimentos que podem ser aglutinados dentro da etiqueta genérica da arte contemporânea. Além da década de 1950 abrigar o marco histórico da constituição da 1ª Bienal de São Paulo, trata-se de um período marcado também por rupturas e o surgimento do primeiro movimento genuinamente brasileiro realizado pelos neoconcretistas.”


Veja o texto na íntegra neste link

O Divisor pelo mundo.

29 de maio de 2013


Notícias  sobre a Performance do Divisor em Hong Kong ao redor do globo :

Na Itália no Corriere della Sera

Na China na ArtSlant

Em Nova York na Hyperallergic

Na Carolina do Norte no Charlotte Observer

No Reino Unido no Huffington Post e na BBC

Entre outros,



O Divisor em Hong Kong

19 de maio de 2013

South China Morning Post

A repercursão da Performance de Lygia Pape .

No Wall Street Journal

Na Folha de São Paulo

No G1 ( Globo )


Lygia Pape e a favela da Maré no MAR

4 de janeiro de 2013

retirado do site do MAR (museu de arte do rio)

vizualizado em 02/01/2013

curadoria: Paulo Herkenhoff e Clarissa Diniz

Exposição O abrigo e o terreno 

sobre :

“O abrigo e o terreno inaugura o projeto Arte e sociedade no Brasil, dedicado à atuação da arte brasileira no campo da alteridade e das relações sociais. A exposição reúne artistas e iniciativas de diversas regiões em torno de uma questão que – dadas as reformas urbanísticas que hoje transfiguram o Brasil, principalmente o Rio de Janeiro – se faz especialmente urgente: as concepções de cidade e as forças que se aliam e se conflitam nas transformações urbanísticas, sociais e culturais do espaço público/privado. Entrecruzando distintos horizontes políticos e estéticos – como a ideia de cidade do homem nu de Flávio de Carvalho (1930), a constatação de uma cidade de casas fracas (Clarice Lispector em O Mineirinho, 1962), o projeto de urbanização da favela Brás de Pina (escritório Quadra, década de 1960) ou a atuação de artistas (2003-2007) na Ocupação Prestes Maia, em São Paulo –, a mostra problematiza a propriedade, a posse e o usufruto dos espaços sociais –o terreno – e os modos como produzem política e subjetividade, do direito à habitação ao desejo de abrigo. Concebida como um laboratório de diálogos e antagonismos que percorre o século XX e invade a contemporaneidade, O abrigo e o terreno inclui ainda uma programação de atividades com intervenções, debates, palestras e publicações.”


a exposição vai de

16 set 2012 > 16 set 2013

no andar térreo


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