Lot 221
  • 221

SERGIO CAMARGO | Untitled (Relief No. 348)

650,000 - 750,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Sergio Camargo
  • Untitled (Relief No. 348)
  • signed, dated Paris 71 and numbered no. 348 on the reverse
  • painted wood construction
  • 23 5/8 by 19 3/4 in. 60 by 50 cm.


Galleri Gromholt, Oslo
Private Collection, Norway
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Oslo, Galleri Gromholt, Sergio Camargo, April - May 1971


This work is in very good condition overall. There is light evidence of wear and handling, including some minor and unobtrusive accretions and a small black mark towards the upper right corner. Under very close inspection, two dark accretions are visible along he upper part of the left edge, several minor and unobtrusive small spots of paint loss are visible and there are a few scattered fine lines of hairline craquelure visible, all of which are stable and mostly correspond to where the cylinders meet the support. Along the top edge, approximately 6-inches from the left, a minor loss has been restored. Under Ultraviolet inspection, an area to the extreme lower left cylinder fluoresces and appears to have benefitted from light retouching.
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

Created in Paris in 1971, Sergio Camargo’s Untitled (Relief No. 348) presents a landscape of light and shadow as dictated by the artist’s trademark and mesmeric arrangement of monochrome cylinders. Although static and affixed to board, the variance in direction and height of these bias-cut lengths of dowel impart a tremendous sense of movement as our retina roves over the work’s undulating composition; indeed, this driving sense of motion draws the spectator into the space of the work itself. Immersed in white gesso, Camargo’s Reliefs employ the chromatic palette of immateriality. The result is a pure exposition of light as the viewer relationally alternates their physical and optical position. There is an added sense of temporality that is comparable to the sonic language of music in these works: like musical notation, Camargo’s compositions also embody an experiential act that unfolds over time. Impressive in scale, compositionally balanced, and chromatically pure, Untitled (Relief No. 348) distils the very quintessence of Camargo’s pioneering and highly conceptual corpus of labyrinthine Reliefs. Camargo, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1930, studied at the Academia Altamira in Buenos Aires as a student of Lucio Fontana and Emilio Pettoruti, after which he moved to Paris to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. In the 1950s, he returned to Brazil where he was exposed to the dominant Brazilian Constructivist movement; however in 1961 Camargo once again relocated to Paris where he would remain until 1974. During this time – the most significant of his career – the artist’s creative practice developed in line with the contemporaneous European Avant Garde and its impetus to strip the work of art back to its essential components: light and space. Where Camargo’s practice chimed with the general unifying principles of the prominent European movements of the moment (namely Spatialism, ZERO, and Nouveau-réalisme), it was with the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (GRAV) that Camargo most identified.

Camargo joined GRAV in 1963, and, akin to its members, he began to emphasise the physical importance of the spectator for his work. Founded in 1960 by François Morellet, Julio Le Parc, Francisco Sobrino, and Jean-Pierre Vasarely, GRAV stipulated the empirical and participatory importance of the viewer as their central concern. As the group outlined in a statement entitled ‘Assez de mystifications’ in October 1963: “If there is a social preoccupation in today's art, then it must take into account this very social reality: the viewer. To the best of our abilities we want to free the viewer from this apathetic dependence that makes him passively accept, not only what one imposes on him as art, but a whole system of life...” (Excerpt from ‘Assez de mystifications’, October 1963, Archives Julio Le Parc, Cachan, reproduced in: Exh. Cat., Grenoble, Magasin, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, GRAV: stratégies de participation, 1960/1968, June - September 1998, p. 126). In Camargo’s Untitled (Relief No. 348) the spectator’s physical presence is as central to the work of art as the cylindrical lengths that compose it. Together, work and viewer become intertwined in an entirely unique expression of pure light and shadow. In this manner, the viewer is freely invited to intuit space as an elemental and subjective physical encounter with unfettered geometric form.

Owing to the subjective quality of these works, Camargo’s reliefs present an experiential balance between concrete geometry and inexplicable abstraction. Nietzschean thought equates the balance between structure and chaos, reason and the subconscious, light and darkness, with the personification of Dionysus and Apollo. Via a similar dynamical tension between polarities – light and shadow, order and chaos, form and nothingness – Untitled (Relief No. 348) comes to life, hypnotizes, and lures us into the depths of the subconscious in which irrational darkness dances with the light of reason.

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Galeria Raquel Arnaud and the Estate of Sergio Camargo.