March 5, 2017


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Lot 107: Pedro Friedeberg

Lot 107: Pedro Friedeberg

La Prisionera del Shirshasana

Oil and india ink on artist's board
Signed and dated in composition at center left; title inscribed in composition at center right; retains Galeria De Arte Misrachi label verso
Board (vis.): 14.5" x 14.5"; Frame: 21.75" x 21.75"
LAMA would like to thank the artist for his assistance in cataloguing this work
Provenance: Private Collection, Pasadena, California (acquired directly from the artist); Thence by descent
Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized: $3,437
Inventory Id: 24107

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The wide-ranging oeuvre of maverick artist and designer Pedro Friedeberg is among the most distinctive of our time. Born in Florence, Italy in 1936, Friedeberg and his German–Jewish family immigrated to Mexico at the start of the Second World War, when he was three years old. He studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana, where he encountered the artist Mathias Goeritz and began working in his studio. He went on to study in Boston and began exhibiting his work in the United States. It was Friedeberg’s famous ‘hand chair’ design that first brought him widespread attention. Shaped in the form of a cupped hand, this piece has remained in production since 1962. It drew widespread acclaim from such prominent figures of the time as Surrealist writer and poet André Breton, filmmaker Roman Polanski, and actress Jeanne Moreau.\r
\rFriedeberg’s influences are as varied as his output, the artist drawing inspiration from Surrealism, Op Art, M. C. Escher’s woodcuts, and the fantastical paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Constantinoplean Day-Dreaming Chair (1966) combines an elegant gold frame with human appendages, topped by a painted woman’s head, and legs that end in molded hands. This piece puns on the anthropomorphic nature of chair design, which feature back, legs and feet. A witty re–imagining of an everyday object, it epitomizes Friedeberg’s absurd yet fantastical vision, which rejected the prevailing modernist trend for stripped back, functional design.\r
\rThe two mixed–media works on board in the sale similarly embody the characteristics of Friedeberg’s art, namely mysterious symbolism, geometric patterns, figurative forms, and illusory space. La Prisionera del Shirshasana (1972) features three figures arranged in a series of poses against a starkly delineated receding prison cell. Friedeberg often borrows references from Jewish tradition, Mexican art and Eastern religions in his work. Here, a rich and allusive iconography of fish, stars, hands, and suns is inked into the ceiling above.\r
\rA retrospective of Friedeberg’s work was held at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in 2010. The appearance of these works is timely, for while Friedeberg’s cryptic designs and artwork have always been popular, of late there has been an enormous resurgence of interest in his work.
\rTravels in the Labyrinth: Mexican Art in the Pollak Collection. Ed. Dylis Pegler Winegrad. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania, 2001. 58. Print.\r
\rFeldman, Melissa. “Hands On.” The New York Times. N.p., 2 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.\r
\rThe Age of Discrepancies: Art and Visual Culture in Mexico 1968-1997. Ed. Olivier Debroise. 1st ed. Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma De México, 2006. 115. Print.