Paule Vézelay

Lines in Space No. 34

1954

Medium
Wire and thread on cardboard in wooden case
Dimensions
Object: 390 x 467 x 50 mm, 4 kg
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1963
Reference
T00631

Display caption

Vézelay began what she called ‘Investigations into Three Dimensions: Pictures of stretched threads and strings’ in Paris in 1935. Even in the context of the international avant-garde scene they were a radical departure from orthodox painting. Vézelay later complicated the geometry by introducing curved wire, as seen here. ‘Was there any reason’, she wrote, ‘why artists should continue to confine Living Lines to a two-dimensional surface while ordinary lines outside the Realm of Art enjoyed freedom in Space?’

Gallery label, January 2016

Catalogue entry

T00631 LINES IN SPACE 1954

Inscr. on label on back of support, ‘Lines in Space No.34. Eight angles in grey and red thread, and a curved wire line from left to right’ and ‘Paule Vézelay, 1954’.
Wire and thread stretched over cardboard, set in balsa wood case, 14 3/8×17 1/2×1 1/2 (36·5×44·5×4).
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1963.

The artist first began to make constructions with stretched threads, curved wire and collage in 1935, and these were shown under the title Recherches en Trois Dimensions, tableaux de Fils et Ficelles tendus, at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris, 1936. In a letter to the compiler the artist wrote (5 January 1964): 'Most lines are used merely as useful symbols of one or another sort, while some are meaningless marks made in idleness, but when lines are drawn by a skilled and sensitive artist they are sometimes imbued with an almost celestial quality which miraculously endows them with “Life”. Such Living Lines are rare and can only be created with infinite patience and a passionate desire to make the hand the servant of the Spirit.... So it was that with stretched threads and curved wires I had my two lines, the Straight Line and the Curved Line, composed in the element of Space.

'My Lines in Space created a third element by casting their shadows, and these changing delicate echoes seemed to add depth and light and beauty to the whole construction; they had, as all shadows have for me, a quality of Magic.

'It is now almost thirty years since I began to make these simple experiments; modest as they were they became more varied as the years went by; they have already been widely exploited by others....’

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II