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Artists Lygia Clark
Lygia Clark Photo

Lygia Clark

Brazilian Painter, Sculptor, Installation and Participatory Artist

Movement: Neoconcretism

Born: October 23, 1920 - Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Died: April 25, 1988 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lygia Clark Timeline

Quotes

"We are the proposers: we are the mold, it is up to you to breath the meaning of our existence into it.
We are the proposers: our proposition is that of dialogue. Alone we do not exist. We are at your mercy.
We are the proposers: we have buried the work of art as such and we call upon you so that thought may survive through action.
We are the proposers: we do not propose you with either the past or the future, but the now."
Lygia Clark
"I realize that as almost all artists today vomit themselves out in a process of great extroversion, I alone am more swallowed up in this process of introversion..."
Lygia Clark
"I think we are now the proponents and, through the proposition, there must be a thought, and when the spectator expresses this proposition he is actually putting together the characteristics of the work of art at all times: thought and expression. And for me everything is connected... The object no longer is there in order to express any concept whatsoever, but so that the spectator can reach, more deeply, his own self."
Lygia Clark
"The act of doing is time."
Lygia Clark
"Truly, I was never a painter; what most interested me weren't sculpture or painting, but music and architecture."
Lygia Clark

"The object would have no meaning or structure outside the participants manipulation."

Guy Brett

Synopsis

Aspiring to break down the barriers between art and everyday life, Lygia Clark radically reimagined what art could be. By facilitating an engaged and embodied relationship between the art object and its audience, Clark's work anticipated the development of participatory art, and has influenced generations of artists pushing the boundaries of sculpture, performance, and art-as-pedagogy. Clark's early abstract canvases were supplanted by constructions that attempted to rupture the pictorial frame, challenging the separation between the artwork and its surrounding environment, and announcing a shift from the two- to three-dimensional plane. These were followed by increasingly organic or corporeal sculptural forms designed to be physically activated by viewer participation, and interactive 'relational objects' which were later incorporated into the therapeutic practice that Clark established in the final phase of her working life.

Key Ideas

Clark believed that art should be experienced not just with the eyes, but as a total bodily encounter. Through her pioneering efforts to arrive at a corporeal and 'organic' form Clark hoped to eliminate the perceived boundary between the artwork and the viewer's perceptual experience in relation to it. By positing the notion of the abstract painting as a 'quasi-body', Clark was able to imagine an interaction between viewer and artwork akin to a meeting of two bodies, thus emphasizing the viewer's embodied, sensorial and emotional response.
Clark pioneered a shift from the art object as something intended to be merely looked at, to the art object as something that demanded to be touched and physically interacted with, effectively requiring the body of the beholder to create or complete the work. This engendered a conceptual shift from audience as passive viewers to audience as active participants.
The body was central to Clark's practice, but instead of simply depicting corporeal experience, Clark invited the participant to feel it. The encounter with the art object was intended to give the participant a heightened sensory perception of their own form and its relationship with the surrounding environment. Clark's practice can be differentiated from the category of Body art, which typically implies a performance addressed to an audience; in contrast, Clark's work entails an essentially private psycho-sensory experience that takes place inside the participant.
Clark saw her therapeutic practice as an 'abandonment of art', but recent accounts of her work have understood this not as a relinquishment of art in itself, but as a critique of art's institutional constraints, and as an embrace of the potential value of art as a social practice.

Biography

Lygia Clark Photo

Childhood and Early Life

Lygia Clark was born Lygia Pimentel Lins to an upper-class family in the town of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. She was educated by nuns at the Sacre Coeur Catholic School, where she displayed an interest in drawing from an early age. Her childhood was one of small-town privilege mixed with bourgeois repression: her father was often violent and abusive, and Clark felt stifled by the limitations dictated by her traditional upbringing. As an adult, psychoanalysis would unleash many painful childhood memories, often centred on a feeling of not belonging that grew more pronounced with the onset of puberty; as she recalled, "I grew up feeling outside the family, trying every night to tear out my little clitoris, which I experienced as a sign of marginality." As this revelation suggests, Clark's gender and sense of sexual self-discovery would play an important part in shaping her ideas about art-making.

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Lygia Clark Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Lygia Clark
Interactive chart with Lygia Clark's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
Josef AlbersJosef Albers
Max BillMax Bill
Alexander CalderAlexander Calder

Personal Contacts

Fernand LégerFernand Léger
Hélio Oiticica

Movements

Concrete
ConstructivismConstructivism
De StijlDe Stijl
BauhausBauhaus

Influences on Artist
Lygia Clark
Lygia Clark
Years Worked: 1947 - 1988
Influenced by Artist

Artists

VALIE EXPORTVALIE EXPORT
Doris SalcedoDoris Salcedo
Ana MendietaAna Mendieta
Marta Mijunin

Personal Contacts

Hélio Oiticica
Lygia Pape

Movements

Contemporary ArtContemporary Art
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Body ArtBody Art
Feminist ArtFeminist Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Vitoria Hadba Groom

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Fiona Johnstone

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Vitoria Hadba Groom
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Fiona Johnstone
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