Gego (German/Venezuelan 1912-1994)
Gego (German/Venezuelan 1912-1994)

Dibujo sin papel 85/13

Gego (German/Venezuelan 1912-1994)
Dibujo sin papel 85/13
steel wire and metal joints
36 x 36 x 1 in. (91.4 x 91.4 x 2.5 cm.)
Executed in 1985.
Gift from the artist.
Vieri Tomaselli collection, Caracas.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's New York, 16 November 2004, lot 56 (illustrated in color).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Gego: Dibujos, 5/85, Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Museo de Barquisimeto, 1985, p. 3, no. 13 (illustrated).
Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Museo de Barquisimeto, Gego: Dibujos, 5/85, July-August 1985, no. 13.
Santurce, Puerto Rico, Espacio 1414, Diálogos 1: José (Tony) Cruz, Gego, Gabriel Orozco y Danica Phelps, September 2005-January 2006.

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Fundación Gego dated 9 June 2009.

“There is no danger for me to get stuck,” Gego once reflected, “because with each line I draw, hundreds more wait to be drawn.” [1] Trained as an architect and engineer in Germany, Gego renewed her artistic practice in Venezuela beginning in the mid-1950s, moving within the orbit of the postwar avant-garde coalescing around Alejandro Otero and Jesús Soto and their practices of geometric and kinetic abstraction. Adapting the constructivist principles that she had earlier studied at the Bauhaus and the example of artists such as Joseph Albers and Paul Klee, she embarked on new experiments with line, probing the architectonics of space in between two and three dimensions. Her practice encompassed breakthroughs in sculpture, from the vertically cascading Chorros and Troncos to modular webs of room-sized Reticuláreas, as well as prolific drawings both with and—radically—without paper.

Gego began to experiment with paperless constructions as early as 1969, but not until 1976 did she stop drawing on paper altogether. Suspended at a slight distance from the wall, her Dibujos sin papel (Drawings without Paper) articulate space and light through a lattice of stainless-steel wires and metal scraps knit together in airy, semi-geometric constructions. An open, rectilinear grid defines the present Dibujo sin papelsix wires intersect at nine, delicately wrought nodal points that establish the drawing’s frontal plane, minimally defining a continuous surface in space. The dialectics of presence and absence play out in the chain of slender, ring-shaped wires that drape across the square grid, their materiality confirmed by the shadows cast against the wall even as they dissolve, optically, in shimmering reflections of light.

“I discovered the charm of the line in and of itself—the line in space as well as the line drawn on the surface, and the nothing between the lines and the sparkling when they cross, when they are interrupted, when they are of different colors or different types,” Gego observed in 1966. “I discovered that sometimes the in-between lines [are] as important as the line by itself.” [2] In her Drawings without Paper, Gego gives visibility to these interstitial, and conceptually infinite spaces cultivated in and through the lines, subtly shaping transparency and light. The suppleness and elasticity of her twisted and knotted wires, oscillating ever so slightly in the air, conjure new volumes out of the grid, expanding and equilibrating the synergy of “in-between lines” and the spaces everywhere around them.

Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

1) Gego, “Testimony 4,” in Sabiduras and Other Texts by Gego, ed. María Elena Huizi and Josefina Manrique (Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts and Caracas: Fundación Gego, 2005), 171.
2) Ibid., 170.

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