Masterpieces (In Absentia): Marcel Duchamp
96.52 cm x 421.64 cm (38 in. x 166 in.)
(Porto Alegre, Brazil, 1939 - )
Latin America, Brazilian
Medium and Support:
Digital image, printed as self-adhesive vinyl cutout, and wood pedestal
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Purchase through the Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 2000
In the late 1970s, Regina Silveira became interested in 15th-century treaties on perspective and especially intrigued by anamorphosis (the controlled distortion of images that could be made to appear normal when viewed from a particular perspective). She produced a series of works where she used the anamorphic distortions of objects from everyday life—chairs, hammers, nails, motorcycles, bookshelves—to create ominous shadows made of adhesive vinyl. In the 1980s, she began to use seminal works from the canon of Western art history as a point of departure. “Masterpieces (In Absentia)” depicts the elongated shadow of a famous “readymade” sculpture of a bicycle wheel on a stool by Marcel Duchamp. In this work, the border between absence and presence, the real and the dematerialized, the original and the copy becomes indistinguishable. The shadow, liberated from its origin, represents the legacy of Western modernism as it looms large over Brazil and the ways Brazilian artists have consumed and transfigured that tradition.