Lygia Clark The Inside Is the Outside 1963

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 507 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

Clark began her career in the early 1950s as a painter, working in the abstract, geometric style that defined Concrete art, a prevalent tendency in modern art in Brazil in that period. By the end of the decade, however, she had come to regard the flatness of painting as a source of undesirable oppositions. “The plane arbitrarily marks off the limits of a space,” she wrote, and “from this are derived the opposing concepts of high and low, front and back—everything that contributes to the destruction in humankind of the feeling of wholeness.”

In The Inside Is the Outside, Clark defied these strictures by transforming a sheet of stainless steel into an open volume with no clear front or back, interior or exterior. By making linear cuts and exploiting the natural pliancy of the metal, she fashioned biomorphic curves, creating an object that brings together attributes that are often conceived as incompatible: subjective and objective, organic and inorganic, erotic and ascetic. Challenging the notion that works of art must be fixed and static objects, Clark envisioned this sculpture as participatory, inviting viewers to hold it and manipulate its shape.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Stainless steel
16 x 17 1/2 x 14 3/4" (40.6 x 44.5 x 37.5 cm)
Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


The artist.
[Alvaro Clark, inherited from the artist]
? - 1997, Galeria César Aché, Rio de Janeiro.
1997 - 2011, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York, and Caracas, purchased through Galeria César Aché.
2011, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired as gift from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.

Exhibition history

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, "Specters of Artaud, Language and the Arts circa 1952", September 18 - December 17, 2012

Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, "La invención concreta. Collección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros", January 22 - September 16, 2013

MoMA Exh. #2226: "Painting and Sculpture Changes 2013", 4th Floor, gallery 26, added December 20, 2013 - April 14, 2014

MoMA Exh. #2286: “Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1988”, 6th Floor, The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery, May 10 – August 24, 2014

MoMA Exh. #2335: "Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980", 6th Floor, The Joan and Preston Robert Tisch Gallery, September 5, 2015 - January 3, 2016

MoMA Exh. #2376: "Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction", 3rd Floor, The Edward Steichen Galleries, April 15 - August 13, 2017

New York, Met Breuer, "Delirious: Art and the Irrational, 1950-1980", September 13, 2017 - January 14, 2018

MoMA Exh. #2424: "Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift", 3rd Floor, 3 East, October 21, 2019 - September 12, 2020

St. Louis, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, "Assembly Required", March 4 - July 31, 2022


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].