Lygia Clark Poetic Shelter 1964

  • Not on view

In 1959 Clark signed the Manifesto Neo-concreta (Neo-Concrete Manifesto), joining fellow Brazilian artists in calling for a greater emphasis on bodily and sensuous experience in geometric abstraction. Clark’s sculptural series of the early 1960s, called Bichos (“critters” in Portuguese) in reference to the creature-like forms of the works, was intended to be participatory; she invited spectators to touch and manipulate the hinged metal pieces, which could be transformed from flat planes into three-dimensional structures. Following the Bichos, Clark’s process grew increasingly interactive, collaborative, and experiential, emphasizing her perspective that art should be perceived with all the senses. “We do everything so automatically,” she said, “that we have forgotten the poignancy of smell, of physical anguish, of tactile sensations of all kinds.”

Gallery label from Artist’s Choice: Grace Wales Bonner—Spirit Movers, November 18, 2023 – April 07, 2024
Additional text

In 1960 Clark began to produce movable metal sculptures that could be modified by the spectator from three–dimensional planes to flat reliefs. She titled this series Bichos (Critters), making reference to animals and organic structures, as in her sculpture Sundial. Poetic Shelter is a key piece, leading to the conclusion of the series by privileging space over flatness and presenting construction as a form of shelter. In this work, as in her drawings, Clark liberates plane and line from their inanimate condition and recovers their vitality through movement and transformation in space.

Gallery label from New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006: Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions, November 21, 2007–February 25, 2008
Painted metal
5 1/2 x 24 x 20 1/8" (14 x 63 x 51 cm)
Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Milan Hughston
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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The artist.
[Alvaro Clark, inherited from the artist]
? - 1997, Galeria César Aché, Río de Janeiro (archival code #582).
1997 - 2016, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York, and Caracas, purchased through Galeria César Aché.
2004, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros .

Exhibition history

MoMA Exh. #1993: "Live/Work: Performance into Drawing", 3rd Floor, The Paul J. Sachs Drawing Galleries, January 31 - May 21, 2007

MoMA Exh. #2022: "New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930-2006: Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions", 3rd Floor, November 21, 2007 - February 25, 2008

Albany, New York State Museum, "Latin American and Caribbean Art: Selected Highlights from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art", May 17 - October 13, 2008

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

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

MoMA Exh. #2451: “Collection: 1940s-1970s”, 4th Floor, gallery 413, “Touching the Void”, November 14, 2020 - removed February 11, 2022


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