Olga De Amaral (b. 1932)
Olga De Amaral (b. 1932)
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A POET’S LEGACY IN ART: THE COLLECTION OF RICARDO PAU-LLOSA
OLGA DE AMARAL (b. 1932)

Cesta lunar 66

Details
OLGA DE AMARAL (b. 1932)
Cesta lunar 66
signed, dated, and numbered 'OLGA DE AMARAL, CESTA LUNAR 66, 923, 1999' (on a label affixed to the verso)
acrylic, gold leaf, thread and gesso on linen
42 x 70 in. (106.7 x 177.8 cm.)
Executed in 1999.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist.
Literature
E. Lucie-Smith, Olga de Amaral: el manto de la memoria, Bogotá, Zona Ediciones, 2000, pp. 81-82 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Notre Dame, Indiana, Snite Museum of Art at University of Notre Dame, Parallel Currents: Highlights of the Ricardo Pau-Llosa Collection of Latin American Art, 29 August - 14 November 2010 (illustrated in color) .
New York, El Museo del Barrio, Caribbean: Crossroads of the World, 12 June 2012- 6 January 2013. This exhibition also traveled to Miami, Pérez Art Museum, 18 April - 17 August 2014.
Post lot text
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, dated 18 February 2022, and is catalogued in the artist's archives with reference number OA0923.

1 Olga de Amaral, The House of My Imagination: Lecture by Olga de Amaral at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 24, 2003 (Bogotá: Zona, 2003), 6-8.
2 Ibid., 7, 9-11.
3 Ibid., 11.
4 De Amaral, quoted in Anna Walker, “Square Words and Gold Landscapes: Building a Life in Textiles,” in Olga de Amaral: To Weave a Rock (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2020), 21.
5 Ibid., 12-13.

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Lot Essay

A pioneering fiber artist, Olga de Amaral has long plied woven strips of linen and cotton—what she describes as “the perfect surface” and the “cornerstone” of her work—into sumptuous, sculptural tapestries laced with gold. Trained as an architect in her native Colombia, de Amaral studied weaving under the noted textile designer Marianne Strengell at the Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) in 1954-55. Her first hangings, walls of loosely interlaced weavings, appeared a decade later and brought her to the forefront of modern textile art. The Museum of Modern Art in New York included her in the watershed exhibition, Wall Hangings, in 1969, and she participated regularly in the Lausanne Biennale Internationale de la Tapisserie between 1967 and 1992. The additions of plaster, gesso, plastic, paint, and her signature gold leaf brought new tactile and spatial dimensions to later weavings like Cesta lunar 66, inviting associations with nature, process, and abstraction. “These woven fragments are the ‘words’ I use to begin creating landscapes of surfaces, textures, emotions, memories, meanings, and connections,” she reflected in a lecture presented at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003. “As I build these surfaces, I create spaces of meditation, contemplation, and reflection.”[1]
De Amaral began to incorporate gold into her practice after a studio visit in 1970 with British potter Lucie Rie and her purchase of a vase that had been mended with gold using the Japanese technique of kintsugi. “She considered fixing to be an act of love and respect,” de Amaral recalls. “This use of gold touched a mysterious place in my mind....From then on, gold became an important material in my work. My search centered on how I could turn textile into golden surfaces of light.” While her gilded tapestries nod to “the ancestral intelligence —the unconscious high mathematics— present in everything textile in ancient Andean culture,” she emphasizes their material and conceptual values—“the texture of time”—embedded in the layers of fiber, pigment, and gold. “The titles of these surfaces help evoke the basic ideas that brought them forth,” she explains. “Names such as Alquimia, Cesta lunar, Imagen perdida, Lienzo ceremonial, Glifo, Estela are all dreams, feelings, sensations, emotions, landscapes, or meditations.”[2]
“I consider my Cesta lunar series to be a clear example of thoughts woven into a surface,” de Amaral continues. “They express feelings that arose when I saw the baskets made by the Yanomami, a tribe in Venezuela known also as the Children of the Moon. I was fascinated by the compact straw basketweave, the elemental enclosing shapes, the achiote-red patina, and, especially by the large, scattered circular motifs with which they decorated their baskets and their bodies. This simple act of adornment revealed to me the unity they perceived between themselves, their objects, and their activities; the unity between their minds and the moon they revere. The plaiting I used to build the Cestas lunares was meant to recall the elementary construction of their objects.”[3]
Like other works in this series, Cesta lunar 66 is structured as a grid of squares, its geometry of warp and weft gleaming and glorious. The interlocking pattern creates a subtle dimensionality across the surface; the natural undulations of the weaving are amplified by the shimmering luminosity of the gold leaf, suggesting both amplitude and lightness. “Space has [a] relationship to tapestry,” de Amaral acknowledges. “My tapestries belong to walls. They exist. I want them to feel like a presence, but I don’t want that presence to be an intrusion. I want them to become almost transparent. To be presence, to be wall, and to be weightless, floating, ingravido.”[4] Cesta lunar 66 floats numinously off the wall, its horizontal expanse a brilliant magnification of Yanomami straw basketweaving and a microcosm of the cratered, celestial terrain to which it alludes. “On entering into the essence of weaving—its function as a protection from the elements—it is inevitable to look at the landscape and not be surprised by the paradox that arises: landscape, inversely, begins to be perceived as an abstraction of weaving. In the end, it is a primal idea that landscape is nothing more than an extension of weaving, that it is only a mantle covering the earth.”[5]
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park
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