Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt) Drawing without Paper 84/25 and 84/26 1984 and 1987

  • MoMA, Floor 3, 3 East The Robert B. Menschel Galleries

“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 From MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019).

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.
Medium
Enamel on wood and stainless steel wire
Dimensions
23 5/8 x 34 5/8 x 16 3/4" (60 x 88 x 40 cm)
Credit
Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Susan and Glenn Lowry
Object number
318.2004
Copyright
© 2019 Fundación Gego
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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The artist.
[Fundación Gego, Caracas]
1997 - 2004, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, New York and Caracas, purchased through Sotheby’s, New York, at Constructivist Art from Latin America, Sale 7062, lot 16, November 25, 1997.
2004, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, acquired as gift from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
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

MoMA Exh. #2117: "Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940 to Now", 2nd Floor, Michael Dunn Gallery, May 5 - August 16, 2010

Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art, "Dance/Draw", October 7, 2011 - January 16, 2012

MoMA Exh. #2226: "Painting and Sculpture Changes 2013", 4th Floor, gallery 26, added December 20, 2013 - January 13, 2015

MoMA Exh. #2389: "The Long Run", 4th Floor, The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Painting and Sculpture Galleries, November 11, 2017 - removed February 5, 2019

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