National Gallery of Australia buys Lindy Lee’s “Ouroboros” for $ 14 million



Its self-consuming torus shape refers to the ouroboros, a mythical serpent eating its tail, a symbol of renewal and regeneration that has fascinated artists, writers and philosophers for millennia. His first known appearance was at a shrine in Tutankhamun’s tomb.

“[Mitzevich] literally just called me up and said ‘Lindy I want you to be as ambitious as possible,’ ”the Byron Bay-based artist said of their phone call in December.

Lee, who is one of Australia’s most successful living artists and recently conducted a major investigation at the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, said she often reaches the limits of practicality and affordability and had reduced his imagination. This time she is aiming for the stars.

A computer-generated image showing the interior of Lindy Lee's Ouroboros sculpture at the <a class=National Gallery of Australia.” loading=”lazy” src=”$zoom_0.398%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_70%2C$y_1/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/1690a198ee5ff54d192fc36d4b85c87e77678300″ height=”224″ width=”335″ srcset=”$zoom_0.398%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_70%2C$y_1/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/1690a198ee5ff54d192fc36d4b85c87e77678300,$zoom_0.398%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_70%2C$y_1/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/1690a198ee5ff54d192fc36d4b85c87e77678300 2x”/>

A computer-generated image showing the interior of Lindy Lee’s Ouroboros sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia.Credit:NGA

“The heart of my practice is about the deep interconnection between humanity and the cosmos,” Lee said. “My thought was to make a sculpture of this magnitude, which has this idea of ​​inclusiveness and a deep and intimate experience with things in the cosmos.”

Lee, who frequently draws on his Australian and Chinese heritage in his work, said public art provided “democratic space.”

“It might sound really old-fashioned, but we actually belong to this incredible mystery: the mystery of who we are is impossible to describe and it’s really awesome. For me, a great work of art brings us to this mutual space of mystery and… puts a little bit of magic in our lives, to give us a longer perspective, ”she said.

“And then we end up with the question ‘what was that?’ “

While Lee will be paid well for the work, and the honorarium will cover some of the salaries of his studio assistants, most of the cost of the part lies in its construction.

It will be cast in remote parts, assembled on site, then polished to a mirror finish. Lee’s creative team consulted with global experts in modern sculpture, including engineers who work with groundbreaking artists such as Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra, for advice.


“It’s very exciting and very expensive,” Lee said.

Mitzevich said the gallery had walked through its sculpture garden and “realized that women artists weren’t really adequately represented, so we decided we wanted to have an Australian woman.”

They were “blown away” by Lee’s pitch.

“It wasn’t just an iteration of something else she had done, it was a major development. It is such a captivating work from a conceptual and material point of view. The work covers the cycle of life. It’s relevant: it’s a big idea that we all have to grapple with, ”he said.

“It is both the universe and the microphone. It is both a feat of engineering and creation. We hope this will really elevate the position of public art in Australia.

The most expensive acquisitions of the National Gallery of Australia

(cost at time of purchase, and adjusted for inflation *)

that of James Turrell Inside Without, 2010 – $ 8.2 million ($ 9.9 million)

that of Lucian Freud After C̩zanne, 2001 Р$ 7.9 million ($ 12.3 million)

Jordan Wolfson’s Body Sculpture (working title), 2018 – $ 6.8 million ($ 7 million)

that of Giorgio de Chirico Death of a spirit [Death of a spirit], 2006 – $ 5.4 million ($ 7.3 million)

that of David Hockney A bigger Grand Canyon, 1999 – $ 5.3 million ($ 9 million)

* Does not include increases in the value of labor over time



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