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Chrysalide (Chrysalis)

Alicia Penalba (French, born Argentina, 1913–1982). Chrysalis, 1961. Bronze, 17 1/2 x 32 x 19 inches (44.5 x 81.3 x 48.3 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Charles Clifton Fund, 1965 (1965:20). © Estate of Alicia Penalba

Artists on Art: Alicia Penalba on Chrysalis

October 16, 2017

In the 1960s, the Albright-Knox wrote to a selection of artists to ask for statements about their works. Alicia Penalba responded with thoughts about her sculpture Chrysalis.

Many of the artists whose letters were published in Letters from 31 Artists write about how their works in the Albright-Knox’s collection represent pivotal or transformative moments in their artistic careers. Alicia Penalba is the only one, however, to distinctively mark this quality in the title of her work, Chrysalis (which she refers to as Chrysalide, the French word for the case that protects a moth or butterfly pupa while it transforms into an adult).

“The name came to me since its spirit marks a very pronounced change in comparison to my preceding works (which had developed in static fashion in a vertical direction and finally horizontal). In a more airy conception, volumes plunging into space in several directions, voids cutting cleanly between the planes and opening more liberally to the light. I thus gave the name Chrysalide to this sculpture which marks a liberation from old forms and laws of weight which has accentuated my work since then.”

Content taken from Letters from 31 Artists to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo: The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, 1970).

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