At Home in Twentieth-Century Brazil:

An Analysis of Lygia Clark’s Models of Homes and Architectural Interiors

by

Julia Kershaw

Keywords

  • Lygia Clark
  • Concretism
  • Neoconcretism
  • maquette
  • modern home

Recent scholarship on Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (b. 1920, Belo Horizonte – d. 1988, Rio de Janeiro) has continued to focus on Clark’s role as a pioneer in participatory art, often in relation to her manipulable sculptures and therapeutic objects. This scholarship, however, has not adequately accounted for another issue in Clark’s career — her engagement with architecture. My research project addresses this research problem with attention to Clark’s models of homes and architectural interiors from 1955 and 1960. Neglecting her engagement with architecture is problematic because she remarked in 1963 that it is not painting or sculpture that interests her the most, but rather architecture and music. In 1956, her models caught the eye of architect Oscar Niemeyer who praised her turns toward architecture.

This article argues that Clark’s models of homes and architectural interiors from 1955 and 1960 played vital roles not only in her career, but in housing architecture as well. On the one hand, they served as the ideal avenue for Clark to transition her geometric paintings into three-dimensional architectural objects through concrete and neoconcrete strategies; on the other hand, they constructed models of living that encourage individuality and spatial fluidity. As a result, our understanding of her career changes, as one not just grounded in issues of participation within art history, but also in the contexts of housing and interdisciplinary interests of Brasília. This article also addresses the spatial differences of concrete and neoconcrete strategies to demonstrate that Clark’s architectural maquette functions as an integral component of the Brazilian constructivist project.