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Indepth Arts News:

"Abstract Art from the Rio de la Plata: Buenos Aires and Montevideo, 1933–1953"
2001-09-11 until 2001-12-09
Americas Society
New York, NY, USA

The Americas Society is pleased to announce the exhibition Abstract Art from the Río de la Plata: Buenos Aires and Montevideo, 1933–1953, the first exhibition in the United States to present an in-depth analysis of this vital moment in the history of abstract art in the Americas.

Approximately sixty paintings and sculptures will represent the genesis of abstract art in the Southern Hemisphere. During the two decades of groundbreaking activity covered by the exhibition, artists from the capital cities on either bank of the Río de la Plata—Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay—created highly innovative works that included shaped and cut-out canvases, and sculptures and reliefs with movable elements which could be manipulated by the viewer. Many features of later Kinetic, Minimal, and Conceptual art can already be seen in these works.

The exhibition opens with works by Joaquín Torres-García, a veteran of European abstraction who returned to his native Montevideo in 1933. Torres-García’s philosophy of Constructive Universalism proposed a fusion of international abstraction with signs and symbols drawn from pre-Columbian cultures. In Montevideo, he was active as a teacher, writer, and broadcaster, and founded two artists’ collectives, the Asociación de Arte Constructivo [Association for Constructive Art, 1934], and the Taller Torres-García [Torres-García Workshop, 1944]. In Buenos Aires, Juan del Prete and Esteban Lisa were breaking the traditional mold of Argentine art with bold abstractions.

In 1944, the publication of a single-issue magazine Arturo in Buenos Aires signaled a new direction and confidence among young Argentine and Uruguayan artists. An eager new generation, shedding off the last remnants of painterly abstraction, proposed an avant-garde art of propaganda and provocation. Through multi-media events, journals, manifestos, concerts, and street exhibitions, the new artists re-claimed the Marxist Utopia of an abstract art of the people. The artists of the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (1946), Arte Madí (1946), and Perceptismo (1949) made the first ‘shaped canvas’ paintings in the mid-1940s, as a reaction against traditional painting supports, and also developed sculptures that invited viewer participation. Artists like Gyula Kosice, Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Carmelo Arden Quin, and Lidy Prati all created their own versions of a transgressive and revolutionary art.

The exhibition is curated by Mario H. Gradowczyk, art historian, Buenos Aires, and Nelly Perazzo, former director of the Museo Sívori, Buenos Aires. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Invención No. 150 [Invention No. 150] 1948
Raúl Lozza
Enamel on board
36 1/2 x 43 1/2 in. (92.7 x 110.5 cm)
Collection of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Caracas

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