MFAH Presents Latin American Constructive Art from Its Renowned Collection, on View Beginning September 15
Houston—September 2012—Constructed Dialogues: Concrete, Geometric, and Kinetic Art from the Latin American Art Collection showcases some 60 paintings and sculptures dating from the 1930s to the present day from the renowned MFAH collection of Latin American art. Over the last decade, the MFAH has developed one of the strongest collections in the world of Latin American Constructivism, including the celebrated Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art and extensive holdings of the work of Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt). On view from September 15, 2012 (Museum District Day, with free admission), through January 6, 2013, the exhibition will provide a unique opportunity to see some of these Latin American masterworks while revealing the significant contributions these artists made to 20th-century Modernism.
“The museum is one of the world’s leaders in collecting and exhibiting art from Latin America and the Caribbean—a region that encompasses more than 20 countries and that was considered an emergent field just 10 short years ago,” said Gary Tinterow, director, MFAH. “Constructed Dialogues will present some of the museum’s best examples of Constructive art, showing how this still-influential movement developed in Latin America, often in fruitful dialogue with artists in Europe and North America.”
“Constructed Dialogues provides a unique chance to see the multiple dimensions of the Constructive art movement, which encompasses Geometric, Concrete and Kinetic art,” said Mari Carmen Ramírez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) at the MFAH. “From the Concretistas and Neoconcretistas in Brazil to the School of the South in Uruguay, this focused look at Constructivism will make known concurrences and relationships developing across Latin America over time, either coincidentally or deliberately.”
Constructivism can be loosely characterized by its rejection of traditional painting and sculpture in favor of a structural, non-referential language based on precisely drawn lines and planes, as well as the incorporation of industrial materials such as plastic and metal. Like their Russian, Dutch, Swiss or German predecessors, Latin American artists embraced these pure forms as the basis for an experimental art of Utopian dimensions that would reflect the modernizing impulse at the heart of their fledgling societies.
Constructed Dialogues will display a Who’s Who of Latin American artistic innovators, including Brazilians Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark; Venezuelans Alejandro Otero and Jesús Rafael Soto; Argentineans Gyula Kosice, Martha Boto and Gregorio Vardanega; and Uruguayans Joaquín Torres-García, Gonzalo Fonseca, Francisco Matto and Julio Alpuy, among others. Placed in dialogue with each other, the works in the exhibition highlight parallels and affinities in the artists’ approaches to Constructivism, as seen in the juxtaposition of Oiticica’s Red going through White (1958) with Torres-García’s Abstract Tubular Composition (1937).
In addition to paintings, a variety of other media will be on view: Kosice’s Kinetic constructions with light and water; paintings on incised wood or wood reliefs by Alpuy, Torres-García and Luis Tomasello; sculptures in aluminum, steel and iron by Clark, Luís Sacilotto, Amilcar de Castro and Franz Weissmann; Gego’s delicate wire sculptures; Plexiglas works by Soto and Francisco Sobrino; and one of Oiticica’s Spatial Reliefs.
An example of the ways that present-day artists still engage with the Constructive legacy can also be seen in the work of Venezuelan Elías Crespin. Merging art and present-day technology, Crespin animates his Kinetic wire sculptures with computer programming. Equiláteros (2008), an elegant stainless steel, lead and nylon moving structure with electronic components, will be on view.
Organization and Funding
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Generous funding is provided by United Airlines.
About the Latin American Art Department and the ICAA at the MFAH
Since its inception in 2001, the Latin American Art Department at the MFAH has acquired more than 550 works of modern and contemporary Latin American art, including a pivotal private collection of 100 works: the Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art, first exhibited in 2007. In addition, major works by Lygia Clark, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Gego, Gyula Kosice, Hélio Oiticica, Xul Solar, Joaquín Torres-García, Cildo Meireles, Luis Jiménez, Daniel Martínez, and Teresa Margolles, among many others, have entered the MFAH collection. Significant exhibitions include Inverted Utopias: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America (2004); Gego, Between Transparency and the Invisible (2005); Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color (2006); Constructing a Poetic Universe: The Diane and Bruce Halle Collection of Latin American Art (2007); and Carlos Cruz-Diez: Color in Space and Time (2011). The department has also established the Partners in Art program with the Fundación Gego in Caracas, the Cruz-Diez Foundation in Paris, and the Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art in Miami, all of which provide long-term loans to the MFAH for use in exhibitions, research and publications.
The International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA) was established with the Latin American Art Department. The center’s mission is to pioneer research of the diverse artistic production of Latin American and Latino artists—from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the United States—and to educate audiences, in order to transform the understanding of Latin American and Latino visual arts while opening new avenues of intercultural dialogue and exchange.
Most recently, the MFAH and ICAA launched a digital archive of some 10,000 primary-source materials, culled by hundreds of researchers based in 16 cities in the U.S. and throughout Latin America. The online archive is available worldwide, free of charge at www.icaadocs.mfah.org and is intended as a catalyst for the future of a field that has been notoriously lacking in accessible resources. The phased, multi-year launch began with 2,500 documents from Argentina, Mexico and the American Midwest, capping the 10th-anniversary year for the Latin American program at the MFAH. The first volume in a companion series of 13 annotated books was published, with subsequent volumes in the series published annually.
About the MFAH
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers more than 64,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present.
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