“My work is based on doing,” Gego said, and this work does indeed have a handmade quality and a sense of spontaneity. Fulfilling the promise of its title, it is installed close to a wall, as any drawing would be. The shadows that play behind it and in the space confined within its spindly components are part of the work and help it to simultaneously present as a flat and a volumetric surface. An emphasis on line is implicit; line, Gego felt, could express “visually human descriptive thought.”
Gego, born Gertrud Goldschmidt in Hamburg, Germany, graduated with a degree in engineering and architecture from the University of Stuttgart in 1938. Prompted by the outbreak of World War II, she immigrated to Venezuela, settling in Caracas in 1939. This work is part of a series called Drawing without Paper, created between the mid-1970s and the late ’80s, that consists of three-dimensional metallic structures comprising wire, thread, and various found objects. To make them, Gego often worked with scrap metal and fragments of interwoven wire left over from other projects. At once organic and ethereal, this work is characteristic of her distinctive approach to geometric abstraction.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
“I was interested in the transparency of volume, so that a form could be appreciated fully from all angles of observation,” Gego noted. Working across architecture, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking, Gego started in 1969 to focus on volume and the expansive properties of the line in space. Her suspended sculptures involved exercises in folding, deforming, and misaligning the grid’s orthogonal axes. By the 1980s, Gego’s three-dimensional assemblages included refuse as well as recycled fragments of other works. Registering movements in the air, these works are often described as “drawings in space.”
Gallery label from Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift, October 21, 2019–March 14, 2020
Towards the late 1960s Gego conceived the environmental wire sculptures that she called Reticuláreas. Fundamentally geometric, these weblike structures can be configured in an endless number of ways, thereby transforming the exhibition space. Drawing without Paper comes from a series of the same name, created between the mid–1970s and the late 1980s, that consists of three–dimensional metallic structures made of wire, thread, and various found objects. Normally installed close to the wall, casting a shadow, the piece incorporates the space around it by leaving its trace the open field of the gallery. The three–dimensionality of this drawing is related to Greek skiagraphy (shadow writing) and emphasizes the thickness of the lines.
Gallery label from New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006: Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions, November 21, 2007–February 25, 2008.
"My work is based on doing," Gego said. This piece has a handmade quality and a sense of spontaneity, as though it was made without an overarching structural plan. Fulfilling the promise of its title, it is installed close to a wall, like any drawing would be. The shadows that play on the wall behind it and in the space confined within its spindly components are incorporated into the work and help Drawing Without Paper simultaneously present a flat and a volumetric surface. An emphasis on line is implicit; line, Gego felt, could express "visually human descriptive thought."
Gego, a German-born artist who immigrated to Venezuela in 1939, is best known for her work Gran reticulárea (1969), a room installation now at the Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas, with weblike, radiating forms created by latching together short pieces of stainless-steel wire. Drawing Without Paper is one in a series of works of the same title that Gego began to make in the late 1970s from scrap metal left over after the creation of other works of art, including fragments of interwoven wire that resemble Gran reticulárea's geometric yet organic form.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, p. 47.