artnet Asks: Textile Artist Olga de Amaral

Her tapestries fuse craft, pre-Columbian painting, and minimalist sculpture.

Olga de Amaral

Olga de Amaral
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Using an eclectic range of stylistic sources—from pre-Columbian archaeology to 1960s minimalism—Olga de Amaral’s three-dimensional tapestries combine elements of painting, craft, and textile art. She is most recognized for her use of gold leaf, often painted over or woven into many of her works. Amaral founded and directed the textiles department at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, and is considered a key figure in the development of postwar Latin American abstraction, alongside artists such as Sérgio Camargo and Raúl Lozza. In 2005 the Museum of Art and Design elected her as an “artist visionary.” Her work is held in permanent collections and exhibited internationally, including at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
It never occurred to me to be an artist. My work began when I was studying at Cranbrook Academy of Art 1954. There I became aware of texture, color, and space. I began the search for my own expression with time and practice, without thinking about where it would take me. After some years, my thoughts changed direction.

Olga de Amaral, Pozo Azul 7 (2012), Paintings, Linen, gesso, acrylic, 36 x 29 in. Photo: artnet Price Database

Olga de Amaral, Pozo Azul 7 (2012)
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

What inspires you?
My everyday life, visual experiences, contact with people, visiting places, architecture, and landscapes. Music has been important for me as I work. All these inspirations have been present in my work. I feel an unusual affinity with color and space. The final fruit of these inspirations is what unexpectedly resulted in my work as it is today.

Olga de Amaral, MONTANA 31 (MOUNTAIN 31), (2012), Paintings, linen, gesso, acrylic, 59.06 x 59.06 in. Photo: artnet Price Database

Olga de Amaral, MONTANA 31 (MOUNTAIN 31) (2012)
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

If you could own any work of modern or contemporary art, what would it be?
A painting from the series of popes by Francis Bacon.

Olga de Amaral, Moya B, 2013, Paintings, Linen, acrylic, 43 x 37 in. Photo: artnet Price Database

Olga de Amaral, Moya B (2013)
Photo courtesy of the artnet Price Database.

What are you working on at the moment?
[I am] continuing the search for my work and allowing it to take its course through my thoughts.

When not making art, what do you like to do?
Read and listen to music.


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