Lot 140
  • 140

SERGIO CAMARGO | Untitled (Relief No. 302)

250,000 - 350,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Sergio Camargo
  • Untitled (Relief No. 302)
  • signed, titled and dated Paris 1970 on a label affixed to the reverse
  • painted wood construction on wooden board
  • 52 by 19.5 by 10 cm. 20 1/2 by 7 5/8 by 4 in.


Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1970


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the white is slightly whiter and brighter and tends more towards the white in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Extremely close inspection reveals a few dust fibres that has adhered to the crevices of the work and some minute media accretions in isolated places throughout. Further extremely close inspection reveals a few minute nicks to the wooden board. Examination under ultra violet light reveals some lighter fluorescence in two isolated spots which is due to the two toquinhos being re-adhered.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Born of Sergio Camargo’s fascination with the interplay of light and shadow, Untitled (Relief No. 302) is a masterful example of the artist’s iconic white reliefs. Transcending the confines of the canvas by combining elements of painting and sculpture, these seminal works mirror the primary concerns of the ZERO group, who sought to eliminate representational painting and invent a new creative language. In a similar fashion to artists such as Enrico Castellani, Piero Manzoni and Otto Piene, Camargo’s approach was to make the substrate, rather than the paint upon it, the subject of the work. In this, Camargo also betrays the enduring influence of his professor at the Academia Altamira in Buenos Aires, Lucio Fontana, whose assault upon the canvas and spatial explorations are of canonical art historical importance. The present work is an exquisite example of a series that came to define Camargo’s opus, and one whose influence and influences can be identified on both sides of the Atlantic.  Despite the fact that the works themselves are a carefully calculated symphony of light and surface, their genesis was entirely accidental. Cutting up an apple to eat, Camargo was enthralled by the relationship between the two planes created by his cuts. As Guy Brett notes, “in the apple was the synthesis he had been working towards and which now united all the past stages of his work – the combination of a single element of substance (the rounded body of the apple) and direction (the plane he had just exposed)” (Guy Brett, Camargo, London 1966, n.p.). This tension between stasis and movement recalls the sensuous geometry of the Neo-Concretists in Brazil, such as Lygia Pape and Hélio Oiticica, as well as the Op art of Bridget Riley and Jesús Rafael Soto. The volume of the sculptural surface appears to fade and dissolve, the cut cylinders jostling for space, “interweave[ing] the information of our tactile and visual senses in a revolutionary way” (Ibid., n.p.).

Similar to Enrico Castellani’s Superfici Bianche and Günther Uecker’s iconic nail reliefs, Camargo’s palette forced the viewer to confront an elemental aspect of his work, that is, the role of light. If the craft and subject of the work is vested in the canvas, the aesthetic relies on the light that hits it. The cut cylinder which formed the cornerstone of Camargo’s artistic lexicon creates a ripple of light and shadow across the surface of the construction, miniature peaks and troughs appear, vibrating and metamorphosing constantly with the movement of both light and viewer. As a result, Untitled (Relief No. 302) is as much as anything an experiential piece, where the viewer and his surroundings dictate the perception of the piece itself.