artnet Asks: Art Dealer Agnes Monplaisir on the Work of Olga de Amaral

Monplaisir was first attracted to the 'spirituality' of the Colombian artist's metallic tapestries.

Agnes Monplaisir.

Colombian textile artist Olga de Amaral is known for her luminous tapestries that blend precious metals like gold and silver with natural fibers, gesso, and acrylic, and are laced with historical references to pre-Colombian and colonial Latin American art. In a new show, Cortex of Our World, at Galerie Agnes Monplaisir, which opens November 18 and is the artist’s seventh show with the gallery in Paris, De Amaral continues her exploration into the geometric abstraction that has characterized the artist’s work in recent years.

Gallerist Agnes Monplaisir has been working with De Amaral (who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973 and a Visionary Artist award from the Museum of Arts and Design in 2005) for years. Interest in her work has surged in the last ten. In this interview with Monplaisir, we find out what first brought the artist to her attention and why De Amaral’s work is gaining momentum.

View Slideshow
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Lienzo Ceremonial 25, (1988). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Dos mitades, (2007). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Moyas, (2013). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Sol doble 2, (2014). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Nudo, (2011). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir
Olga de Amaral
Olga de Amaral, Nébula 9, (2015). Courtesy of Galerie Agnes Monplaisir

artnet News: How did you begin working with Olga de Amaral? 
Agnes Monplaisir: I met Olga through a French expert and curator, Pascal Bonafoux. (He is a specialist with Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and contemporary art, which is so rare.) Ten years ago I met him in his gallery after he had just returned from Bogotá, and he showed me a new work he had brought back by Olga de Amaral. I fell in love immediately. I was very moved by her use of minerals and precious metals. They imbued it with a kind of spirituality, a sense of timeless and transcendent connection with nature. I was completely entranced by how full of life her work was. I had never seen anything like it.

Her work has developed over time from more figurative two-dimensional tapestries to the geometric abstractions that she’s been doing more recently. What series have been her most popular and why do you think they resonate?
There have definitely been defined periods in the development of Olga’s work. Her works incorporating precious metals and natural materials—first with Umbras, then with Bosques—have been particularly iconic and sought-after, in part because of the stunning aesthetic effect of the texture and movement through the medium and, in part, because of the natural landscape and cultural history that the works invoke. Most Recently, her Brumas series has been extremely captivating, as a three-dimensional mixed media/textile installation, based heavily on techniques of architecture and three-dimensional design.

In the exhibition of Olga’s work that we are opening today at the Galerie Agnes Monplaisir in Saint Germain des Pres, Cortex de Notre Terre or Cortex of Our World, we are featuring a variety of Olga’s works from her most recent period, focusing on the beautiful and varied ways that Olga’s works have connected the human experience with the natural world.

Can you tell me something about her collectors? Are they mostly Latin American or more international? 
Olga’s collectors are international and extremely diverse. People really love her work all over the world. She has established herself as an iconic figure. Her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio in 2017 will be a watershed moment in a long, prestigious career.

What’s the market like for her work at the moment? 
The market is still blossoming. Actually, in a recent article artnet highlighted the exponentially increasing demand and auction prices for her works over the last decade. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Have there been any remarkable shifts in demand for her work?
The value of Olga’s work has grown extraordinarily, increasing by roughly four times over the last decade both at auction and through private sales. Her work has become iconic of a revolution in multimedia works by incorporating varied techniques from weaving and sculpture to architecture and geometric design. It represents a huge shift towards long-term collecting of her work as an investment. It is still very early in this shift and the value of the work continues to climb.

Are auction markets and private prices in sync? Or are there any differences and if so, what do they say about her market?
With the greater demand for Olga de Amaral’s work, auction prices have risen exponentially. One reinforces the other. Olga is now 84, and although she continues to create new works, she has garnered an international cult following, which has driven the intrinsic value of her work.

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