At the Armory Show, an Artist Is Selling a Collection of All the Underwear Men Have Left in His House for $50,000

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After booth after booth of gorgeous, colorful paintings, Jonathas de Andrade’s sculpture (2023) can’t help but stop visitors to New York’s Armory Show in their tracks. That’s because it’s an installation of 68 pairs of men’s underwear, vacuum packed and hung as if for sale at a department store.

The piece, on offer from the New York- and Brazil-based gallery Nara Roesler, is priced at $50,000, or about $735 per brief. De Andrade, who is 41, made the work from underwear left behind by ex-boyfriends over the years—but he isn’t commenting on how many former paramours the work represents, or how long it took him to accumulate all the skivvies.

“The piece gets a lot of attention. People ask a lot of questions, like ‘did he have all these lovers?’” gallery partner Daniel Roesler told Artnet News. “He looks at it as a social sculpture.”

To create the installation, which debuted at the CRAC Alsace in eastern France before traveling to the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Lisbon, De Andrade actually bought a vacuum sealing machine. (Before going on view at the Armory, a few of the individual pieces had to be re-sealed, suggesting interesting conservation issues for any collectors tempted to add the work to their holdings.)

Jonathas de Andrade, Olho-faísca/spark eye

Jonathas de Andrade, (2023), for sale for $50,000 from Nara Roesler, the New York and Brazil gallery. Installation view at the 2023 Armory Show in New York. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

The underwear sculpture welcomes a variety of different readings. Is this a portrait of heartbreak? Or celebration of sexual liberation?

Roesler favors the later interpretation. “I see him as more of an explorer, living life to the fullest—very open about it and very proud,” he said.

Though matters have improved for the LGBTQ population in Brazil in recent decades, homosexuality is still not completely accepted, especially where De Andrade lives in Recife, in the northeast.

“It’s much tougher to be [gay] away from São Paolo and Rio. We have a very high rate of murder still,” Fred Von Bullow, who handles the gallery’s São Paulo sales, told Artnet News.

Jonathas de Andrade, <em>Achados e Perdidos (Lost and Found)</em>, 2020, installation view at Miami Art Basel, Meridians Sector, 2022. Photo by Charles Roussel, courtesy Nara Roesler Gallery and Galleria Continua.

Jonathas de Andrade, , 2020, installation view at Miami Art Basel, Meridians Sector, 2022. Photo by Charles Roussel, courtesy Nara Roesler Gallery and Galleria Continua.

“It’s very much about desire and the gaze on the male body,” Roesler added.

De Andrade previously engaged with the topic in his installation , in which he sculpted clay body fragments and outfitted them with men’s Speedos left behind in Recife changing rooms, collected over the period of a decade.

You might have spotted the artist’s work at last year’s Venice Biennale, where his memorable Brazilian pavilion invited visitors to walk through doorways shaped like giant ears. And earlier this week, in conjunction with the São Paulo Biennial, the gallery staged a screening of two de Andrade films,  and , set to a live score. New York’s Museum of Modern Art has acquired the works, according to the gallery.)

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