Lygia Clark (Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1920 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1988) is one of the preeminent artists of the twentieth century, whose pioneering body of work reimagined the relationship between audience and the art object. A founding member of the 1950s Brazilian Neoconcretist movement, Clark proposed a radical approach to thinking about painting by treating its pictorial surface as if it were a three-dimensional architectural space. Experimenting with modulations of form, color, and plane, her early abstract works harbored compositions that challenged the canvas’s edge and extended the visual field of painting into the physical realm of the viewer. Her iconic Bichos, or sculptures constructed out of hinged metal planes, allowed for the audience to exercise authorship through participation. Clark’s reliance on the viewer to steer her sculptures through many possible configurations not only jeopardized the autonomy of the art object itself, but also reconfigured her art as a performative, time-based event. Shifting her focus towards phenomenology and what would later be termed social practice, she invited her audience to engage with objects that triggered sensations and personal memories, and heightened the viewer’s awareness of self. Throughout her lifetime, Clark would remain a seminal figure of the international avant-garde, impacting future generations of artists with her transformative ideas surrounding the body, its presence, and agency within a given environment.
Retrospective exhibitions dedicated to Lygia Clark’s work include the critically acclaimed exhibition Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art 1948-1988, curated by Connie Butler and Luis Pérez-Oramas, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Lygia Clark: A Retrospective, curated by Felipe Scovino and Paulo Sergio Duarte, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo; and Lygia Clark, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, which travelled to the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Marseille, France; Serralves Foundation, Porto; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; and the Imperial Palace, Rio de Janeiro. Important solo and group exhibitions during Clark’s lifetime include the early São Paulo Biennials (1953-1967); Second Pilot Show of Kinetic Work, curated by Guy Brett, Signals Gallery, London; and a presentation, alongside Mira Schendel, at the XXXIV Bienale di Venezia in 1968. Recent exhibitions include Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Collección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960 – 1985, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Modulated space, Luhring Augustine, New York; The Shadow of Color, curated by Rita Kersting, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Making and Unmaking, curated by Duro Olowu, Camden Arts Centre, London; Life Itself, curated by Daniel Birnbaum, Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Lygia Clark: Work from the 1950s, Alison Jacques Gallery, London; Adventures of the Black Square, Abstract Art and Society 1915-2015, curated by Iwona Blazwick and Magnus Petersens, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; and Lygia Clark: Estudos e Maquete, Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Clark’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Reina Sofía Museum, Madrid; the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art; the Museum of Modern Art Rio de Janeiro, among others.