This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné of Lucas Samaras Boxes, which is forthcoming from Artifex Press.
“Lucas Samaras’s sculpture has always centered on a notion of transformation that is simultaneously magical and disturbing, seductive and irritating, and almost always visually irresistible. Samaras’s best objects are like magnets. Our eyes latch onto them, pore over them, have difficulty letting go; our minds are equally snared by their mesmerizing surfaces and startling juxtapositions of image, form and material” (R. Smith, “Repeated Exposures: Lucas Samaras in Three Dimensions,” Lucas Samaras: Objects and Sculptures 1969-1986, exh. cat., Denver Art Museum, 1988, p. 53.)
Lucas Samaras is renowned for his extraordinarily colorful and carefully crafted boxes, a body of work that has elevated the American-Greek artist to a legendary status on the New York art scene. Box #63 is a provocative example of this series of constructions, beguiling in its material and lustrous in its jewel-like palette. Unlike other boxes by the artist, which are often as decorated on the exterior as they are within, Box #63 is deceptively unassuming while closed: its wood panels are primarily unadorned, its shape is familiar and its function, seemingly modest and mundane. Opening the box is therefore all the more ceremonial: revealed within is an array of beads and jewels representing the full spectrum of the rainbow, dazzling and hypnotizing the viewer, accompanied by exotic seashells and peculiar instruments—a true treasure trove awaiting its fortuitous discoverer.
Samaras started to make boxes in the early 1960s, using found materials and objects that ranged from the menacing to the sensuous. Pins, razor blades, hair, tacks, thread and glass all feature in intricate patterns, often encircling self-portraits or drawings, and always spectacularly colorful. Handcrafted with a technical fastidiousness, these boxes are among Samaras best-loved works, existing in museum collections around the world. Box #63, a particularly special example of this series, was included in notable exhibitions at both the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.