Lygia Pape “A Multitude of Forms” currently on display at the MET Breuer is the first US museum retrospective for the Brazilian artist. A member of both the Grupo Frente and the Neoconcrete movement, both with emphasis on abstraction and geometry during the 1950’s and 1960’s. She continued to work while under dictatorship (1964-1985) broadening her creative practice to include film, performance, poetry and installations.
One of the most impressive works in the exhibition is “Livro du tempo” (“Book of Time’, 1961-1963) which consists of 365 wall sculptures, to represent 365 days in a year. Each of the forms is a variation on a square.
The squares have each had at least one section cut away, recolored and placed back on top of the square.
In the top example an L shaped corner has been cut away from the red square painted white then arranged so that the corner of the section meets the new corner of the red figure. In the bottom example the yellow square has had a smaller square (with sides 1/3 the length of the original) removed from the center of the top edge. Painted white and rotatated 45 degrees the new square is placed centered under the void.
The individual sculptural elements can be more complex with multiple identical cut-aways. The myriad of possibilities explored by Pape is what makes this work monumental. Created during the time of the Concrete movement “Livro du tempo”, this work included an element of viewer interaction: viewers (back then) were allowed to touch the work. By including 365 elements the artist references the time it take for the earth’s rotation, tying the abstract geometry to the natural world.
The MET Breuer has presented a large comprehensive display of Pape’s art. I have only really talked about one work of art, there is so much more to discuss. Anyone in NYC this Spring should definitely plan to go to the museum.