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a trama (a fabric net)

Mira Schendel. A trama (A fabric net). c. 1960s

Oil transfer drawing on thin Japanese paper
173∕4 x 241∕2" (45.1 x 62.2 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Ada Schendel and the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, 2008 Audio courtesy of Acoustiguide

From the time Mira Schendel was a child, she practiced drawing at a furious rate, always carrying pencils and a drawing pad with her.

This work is titled A Trama, which means a fabric net in Portuguese. And it's done on this thin Japanese paper. The medium that she would employ all throughout the 1960s and the 1970s. Mainly because of its transparency and its many philosophical connotations-- that the paper represents nothingness in that sense.

This particular work really is emblematic of that period of the 1960s because it employs the universals spherical form that she juxtaposes here against these parallel lines. She starts to employ a lot of writing, a lot of jagged lines. And there's a key moment here where she actually ruptures the paper and right at the bottom, right beneath that tear, it says [Portuguese]. "It's a pity that nothing else got torn."