Inverted Utopias is the first exhibition in the United States devoted to the brilliant, innovative contributions of Latin American artists to the phenomenon that became the 20th-century avant-garde.The exhibition spans the decades 1920 to 1970, bringing together more than 200 works by 67 artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The presentation integrates outstanding examples of the visual arts (painting, sculpture, assemblage, mixed media, installation, and performance) with printed materials (books, manifestos, and reviews).
The works on view are presented in dialogue with two distinctive periods of the 20th century. In the first—comprising the decades 1920 to 1940—artists who were considered the pioneers of the Latin American avant-garde returned from Europe, where they had taken part in cutting-edge movements such as Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism. Having assimilated these trends into highly innovative ideas that set new standards for artistic creation in Latin America, these forerunners sought to make real the promise of a “new art” for societies undergoing the initial stages of modernization. The second period—the decades 1950 to 1970—witnessed the expansion of avant-garde activities throughout the region as well as the autonomy from contemporary developments in Europe and the United States.