Lygia Clark


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Brazilian sculptor, painter, and Kinetic artist, born at Belo Horizonte. She studied in Rio de Janeiro under Roberto Burle Marx and then in Paris, 1950–52, under Léger. After her return to Brazil she became a leading figure in the country's vogue for Concrete art (or Neo-Concrete art as it tended to be called there). In 1959 she turned from painting to sculpture, making pieces that could be manipulated by the spectator. She did this by creating sculptures out of hinged metal plates or of non-rigid material. An example is Rubber Grub (1964, remade by the artist 1986, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro), a hanging arrangement of corrugated rubber. In 1964 she initiated ‘vestiary’ sculpture, designed to be worn. Clark rejected the cult of the unique work and wanted her sculpture to be industrially fabricated. An object which was no longer precious could be the subject of bodily participation, not passive contemplation. She subsequently extended this idea to environmental art. The House is a Body (1968) was entered through a tunnel. Inside were cubicles with elastic strips, plastic bags which opened when the participant passed by, and balloons to produce sensations as tactile as visual. This interest in participation was shared by her Brazilian contemporaries Schendel and Oiticica. In Clark's case, this preoccupation was linked to her work as a practising psychologist. It was also associated by the artist with specifically female experience. She wrote in 1969 ‘I only know that my way of linking up to the world consists in being fertilised and then ovulating’. Clark was one of the most internationally known of Brazilian artists: she received many awards and represented her country at the Venice Biennale in 1960, 1962, and 1968.

Further Reading

J. V. Aliaga, ‘Lygia Clark’, Frieze (May 1998)

Subjects: Art.

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