Lot 59
  • 59

León Ferrari (b. 1920)

125,000 - 175,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • León Ferrari
  • Luna
  • stainless steel 
  • 39 3/8 by 39 3/8 by 39 3/8 in.
  • 100 by 100 by 100 cm
  • Executed in 2006.


Cecilia de Torres, Ltd., New York
Private Collection, New York


This work is in very good condition. The overall structure is sound and stable; the work is ready to hang.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Planet Ferrari

On April 12, 1961, Youri Gagarin circled the earth at 17,500 miles per hour. He was the first man in space. Ever since, mankind has visited the moon several times, has sent probes to every single planet in the solar system and is now planning a trip to Mars.

The conquest of space was not only a technological feat: it also helped to advance new attitudes and perceptions about the very nature of our human condition: we became conscious of our cosmic humanity and this new social status is at the origin of several original artistic departures. For an important group of artists / philosophers from the late 1950’s and the early 1960’s, the work of art had to have the power to reflect a sense of an infinite, mysterious space. For these artists (Fontana, Klein, Soto and others), the work had to plunge the viewer into a world of awe, uncertainty and bewilderment. The world had to come to a stop, only to start again, differently.

It is interesting to note how the conquest of space influenced two Argentinian artists: Lucio Fontana and León Ferrari. While Fontana sliced and punched his canvases to make visible the dark mystery behind the monochromatic abstraction of the painting plane, Ferrari suggested ethereal volumes by drawing lines in space with fine wires. Gagarin, 1961 (private Collection Buenos Aires), is a seminal hanging sculpture of this series, created shortly after the first cosmonaut flight.

Ferrari, like Fontana, started his early art explorations with abstract ceramic works. Interestingly, most of this ceramic body of work was meant to hang from the ceiling. Ferrari's Gagarin, Planeta, 1979, this Luna 2006 and so many other works are suspended in space, defying gravity and creating a sense of an incorporeal, exotic and unreachable singularity.

In a 1964 book, Escrito en el Aire (Written in the air), published by Al Insegna del Pesce d´Oro in Milan with Spanish poet Rafael Alberti, Ferrari´s first abstract writings were published across Ferrari's hand written poems: “When somebody makes sculptures and drawings, it is assumed that the drawings were made first, and then transferred to sculpture. On the contrary, I began to make wire sculptures and the drawings were done later.” (1)

By quickly revisiting the artist's work from the 1960’s onward, it becomes clear that one of Ferrari’s interests is giving hand writing a third dimension, a sense of corporeal reality. In this sense, he precedes Jesús Rafael Soto. Soto's early Escrituras / Writings from the mid 1960's are built differently however: the rounded wires seem to dematerialize in front of a stripped background, creating infinite interruptions to the act of reading. Like in Quantum physics, the writing – the phenomenon- disappears at the very moment it is being observed.

On the other hand, Ferrari is primarily concerned with the ultimate meaning and spatial nature of a poem, a letter, a manifesto. His strategy also offers an alternative by allowing itself to explore beyond semantics: an abstract jumble of line intersections -as  in this Moon- suggests that there is indeed an ideal celestial and unreachable entity that contains and represents a yet to be discovered parallel; an abstract and mysterious semiotic universe open to all existential possibilities and interpretations. In these works, Ferrari finely weaves pure poetry into sculpture.


(1) León Ferrari, Serie de Errores and works 1962-2007, Cecilia de Torres, LTD, February 2008, p. 75