WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION III:
THE SECOND SEX
June 6 - October 30, 2018
Feliza Bursztyn (b. Bogotá, Colombia 1933- d. 1982, Paris, France)
Born in Bogotá, Colombia to Polish parents, Feliza Bursztyn studied painting both at the Art Students League in New York and in Paris. After returning to Bogotá in 1958, Bursztyn adopted ideas proposed by the Nouveaux Réalistes (New Realists) in the early 1960s as they sought to incorporate the ‘everyday’ in their art. Especially interested in the welded assemblages of César Baldaccini, the artist began making sculptures out of scrap metal working out of her father’s textile factory. Bursztyn experimented with assemblage and movement to create the 1968 series titled Las Histéricas (The Hysterics). These kinetic, often motorized sculptures made of stainless steel were shown accompanied by a video sound projection produced by filmmaker Luis Ernesto Arocha. Possibly the most emblematic of the artist's work, La Cama (The Bed), from 1974, consists of a gyrating male or female mechanical body in the act of lovemaking. The provocative work presented a clear challenge to the country’s strict Catholic Church and government. Accused and interrogated by Colombian authorities of collaborating with the M-19 terrorist group and the Cuban government in 1981, Bursztyn moved to Paris where she died in exile soon after.
Lygia Clark (b. Belo Horizonte, Brazil 1920 – d. 1988 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Lygia Clark trained with the landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx in Rio de Janeiro and then in Paris at Fernand Léger’s Academy from 1950 to 1952. Upon her return to Rio de Janeiro, Clark became a leading figure at the forefront of the Neo-Concrete movement. Through her pioneering work, Clark encouraged the spectators’ active participation. Caranguejo (Crab) can be considered an archetypical example of the series entitled Bichos (Creatures). With this series, the artist proposed objects as “living beings” or “creatures” that can provoke a dynamic relationship between the viewer and the work of art. Clark explained that the allusion to the animal was not so much a way of expressing geometric forms but rather a means of conveying the work’s organic and active qualities. The work is to be manipulated, moved and modified by the spectator. From the late 1960s through the 1970s, Clark developed a series of physical propositions connected to her work in psychoanalytic therapy.
Milagros de la Torre (b. Lima, Peru 1965)
Milagros de la Torre has worked with photography since 1991, often examining memories of her childhood living in Peru during a period marked by violent encounters between the government and organized terrorist groups known as the Shining Path. Incriminating love letter written by prostitute to her lover is part of the 1996 The Lost Steps series. It reveals a deeply moving correspondence between an imprisoned woman and her lover. In this series, the artist photographed inanimate objects that powerfully convey an emotional immediacy charged with moral implications.
Paz Errázuriz (b. Santiago, Chile, 1944)
Paz Errázuriz’ photographs often portray the marginalized communities of Chilean society. In the series created between 1982-90 titled Adam’s Apple, Errázuriz depicts the everyday lives of transvestite prostitutes. Persecuted as homosexuals during the brutal military regime of Augusto Pinochet, Errázuriz’s subjects display no emotion but rather a stoic pride for their personal circumstance. Employing a poetic black-and-white mode, Errázuriz also hints at the emerging menace of the Aids epidemic in brothels such as those depicted in the series from Talca and Santiago.
Maria Freire (b. Montevideo, Uruguay, 1917 – d. Montevideo, Uruguay, 2015)
A cofounder of the Grupo de Arte No-Figurativo, Maria Freire was a pioneer in the Uruguayan Concrete Art Movement. Influenced by De Stijl theoretician Theo Van Doesburg, Cercle and Carré founders Piet Mondrian and fellow Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres García, as well as by pre-Columbian masks and art, Freire developed her own distinct abstract language. Relying on geometric forms and primary and secondary colors, Freire presented the painting, ”BNR,” at the 1957 Sao Paulo Biennial.
Regina Galindo (b. Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1974)
Through her radical and often disturbing documented performances, Regina Galindo underscores Guatemala’s violent and corrupt history and its effects on contemporary society. The video, Quién puede borrar mis huellas? (Who can erase my footprints?) documents the artist walking along the streets of Guatemala City from the Constitutional Court to the National Palace. Leaving a trail of crimson footsteps as she dips her feet into a bowl of blood bought from the local clinic, Galindo performs a ceremonial protest against the former dictator, Efrain Rios Montt and his attempt to be exonerated from charges of genocide so that he could be reconsidered as a presidential candidate. Galindo’s video alludes to the consequences of Guatemala’s violent past that cannot be erased.
Anna Bella Geiger (b. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1933)
Born in Brazil to Polish parents, Anna Bella Geiger creates works that question the Eurocentric approach to art history and geography. Taking inspiration from a wide range of subjects, covering philosophy, art history, and the sciences, the artist’s heterogeneous practice explores current socio-political themes as she grapples to define a collective Brazilian identity. Sobre a Arte 2: Brasil como centro cultural hegemônico exemplifies Geiger’s ironic appropriation of cartography as a scientific method in challenging seeming ‘truths’ as delineated by the ruling class.
Gertrude Goldschmidt (Gego) (b. Hamburg, Germany, 1912- d. Caracas, Venezuela, 1994)
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Gertrude Goldschmidt (known as Gego) migrated to Venezuela at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Having received a degree in engineering and architecture in Stuttgart before going to Caracas, Gego first produced figurative and expressionistic drawings and paintings. Influenced by the widespread presence of geometric abstraction and kinetic works by Venezuelan artists such as Alejandro Otero, Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Jesús Rafael Soto, Gego soon developed her own unique style in which she utilized delicately knotted steel wires to create three-dimensional sculptures and later larger scale installations. Through these works, Gego challenges notions of the handiwork/architecture/hi-art hierarchy as well as creating organic and flexible architectural volumes.
Fernanda Gomes (b. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1960)
Part of a generation of artists, including Ernesto Neto, Beatriz Milhazes and Adriana Varejão, who were born in the early 1960s and based in Rio de Janeiro, Fernanda Gomes creates works that challenge our interaction and awareness of space and materials. Incorporating discarded building materials or furniture and humble objects, such as string and wood, Gomes focuses attention to unnoticed details that activate our spatial awareness of the everyday environment. By placing seemingly trivial objects in white cube galleries, as well as referencing iconic works such as Malevich’s white canvases, Gomes challenges the traditional exhibition site and historical canon, while prompting unexpected associations between the formal and informal spaces.
Elsa Gramcko (b. Puerto Cabello, Venezuela 1925 – d. Caracas, Venezuela, 1994)
Elsa Gramcko’s early paintings produced in Venezuela during the 1950s were stylistically tied to geometric abstraction. Gramcko’s later compositions such as Abstracto (1962), and Cruz (1966), reflect the influence of gestural tendencies during her travels to France during the early 1960s. Exploring the use of unusual materials such as tar and metal in her collages, Gramcko was deeply fascinated by the collective unconscious.
Sarah Grilo (b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1920 – d. Madrid, Spain, 2007)
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sarah Grilo studied with Spanish artist, Vicente Puig and formed, along with artists Enio Iommi and Lidy Prati, the Grupo de Artistas Modernos de la Argentina. Grilo lived in Paris and London before moving to New York on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1961. By merging elements of abstract expressionism and an amalgamation of language, symbols, and scribbles, Grilo created an energetic painting style in the early 1960s that anticipates the street art of graffiti artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Carmen Herrera (b. Havana, Cuba, 1915)
Born in 1915, Carmen Herrera studied in Paris as a young girl before returning to attend the male-dominated architecture school of Havana. It is there that Herrera found what she calls her life-long fascination with the world of straight lines, angles and order. As she explained, “In this chaos that we live in, I like to put order. I guess that’s why I am a hard-edged painter, a geometric painter.” Herrera moved to Paris in 1948 where she showed frequently at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, alongside other artists such as the Venezuelan Disidentes and young US artists Ellsworth Kelly and Jack Youngerman. Before returning to live permanently in New York in 1953, Herrera created Black and White in Paris. The painting’s structural composition and its unique positioning of the canvas’ square format as a diamond resonate greatly with her interest in architectural spaces within a geometric order.
Magali Lara (b. Mexico City, Mexico, 1956)
Magali Lara’s delicate collages explore feminist concepts of gender stereotypes within male-dominated societies. In the Ventanas (Windows) series from 1977, Lara adopts the window as a metaphor, and presents an intimate glimpse into her personal experiences and emotions. Incorporating texts and materials such as stitched, bloodied or rouge-blotched torn paper, Lara’s windows suggest acts of defiance in face of violence and domesticity.
Anna Maria Maiolino (b. Scalea, Italy, 1942)
Escaping Italy’s neo-Fascist rule in 1954, Anna Maria Maiolino immigrated to South America, first to Venezuela and then to Rio de Janeiro in 1960. In contact with artists Antonio Dias and Rubens Gerchman, Maiolino became an active participant in the New Brazilian Objectivity movement in 1967. Maiolino’s diverse body of work expresses an “emotional geography,” and often suggests the processes of natural erosion. As with Novos outro, Maiolino uses cement molded into biomorphic forms to play with concepts of the organic and artificial, as well as exposing her interest in the constantly changing bodily formations.
Ana Mendieta (b. Havana, Cuba, 1948- d. New York, United States, 1985)
Born in Havana, Ana Mendieta arrived in the US in 1961 as part of the Peter Pan Operation. Through the program run by the US government and Catholic Charities, children were separated from their families and sent to the US as a way of escaping Fidel Castro’s Marxist government. Studying inter media arts with German artist Hans Breder at the University of Iowa, Mendieta quickly developed a practice in which her body, the earth and other organic materials such as blood, fire, feathers and wood served as the subject of photographs, films, and performances. Mendieta often employed her body as subject and as a means of addressing violence against women. In “earth-body” work, Mendieta would press her naked form into various natural materials such as mud, sand or grass, leaving a silhouetted outline. For Mendieta, her earth/body sculptures allowed her what she termed a means of, “becoming one with the earth… and reactivating primeval beliefs.”
Marta Minujín (b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1943)
Best known as a conceptual and performance artist, Marta Minujín received a scholarship to study in Paris in 1961. There she carried out her first performance or ‘happening’ in 1963, La Destrucción (The Destruction) at which she gathered mattresses inside the courtyard, Impasse Roussin, and then invited fellow artists to burn and destroy the work as a “livable sculpture.” The Frac-asado was first shown at the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC) in Buenos Aires in 1975 as part of actions and events associated with La academia del fracaso (University of Failure). The assemblage of a burnt jacket draped on crossed rotisserie metal rods supported by a box of burnt charcoal, topped with a steel cap bordered by twisted metal nails in the shape of a crown of thorns, suggest Christ’s crucifixion while playing on the literal meaning of the compounded-word title. Minujín exploits the different meanings of a ‘frac’ translated as a ‘smoking jacket’ or tux, which is literally ‘asado’ or burnt, as well as on the meaning of a ‘frac’ as a break and all that might be associated with disruption or ‘fracaso’ or failure. Minujín takes a critical stance against preconceived notions of success, which she defines as being superficial when dictated by others such as those in power during Argentina’s dictatorial rule, and glorifies failure in its place.
Lucia Nogueira (b. Goiania, Brazil, 1950- d. London, England, 1998)
With her interdisciplinary practice, Lucia Nogueira focuses on the psychological relationship between objects and the body. Born in central Brazil, Nogueira moved to London in 1975. She defined her art as being reflective of her childhood in Brazil and its artistic legacy as one based on empirical knowledge rather than European art history. Nogueira’s works on paper, often rendered in watercolor and ink, reveal an enigmatic child-like mythical world with sinister implications. Employing delicately colored watercolors to depict floating heads or menacing sculptural forms such as an irregular cage dipped in wax with a single steel wire honed to a sharp point, Nogueira conveys a sensuous and sensorial experience.
Lygia Pape (b. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1927- d. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2004)
In 1955, Lygia Pape began creating woodcut prints which she referred to as Tecelares (Weavings) series. As reflected in Untitled, one of the works from this series, Pape explored how the printmaking process could relate to Brazil’s cultural identity. Pape overlapped black woodcut impressions of geometric shapes. Most commonly associated to modernity and industrialization, the orderly geometric outlines lines take on the organic and irregular quality of the wood grain. Furthermore, Pape challenges printmaking’s industrialized nature by using a woodblock process most often considered as ‘primitive’ and associated with the indigenous populations status. For Pape, the print medium’s layering of spatial relations is capable of producing consequential energy.
Liliana Porter (b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1941)
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Liliana Porter moved to New York in 1964 where she currently works and resides. Since 1964, Porter has established her artistic legacy through her multifaceted artistic practice, which includes painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, video, performance and installation. In 1964 she cofounded the New York Graphic Workshop with Luis Camnitzer and José Guillermo Castillo. Porter’s art is characterized by her sardonic humor and wit. Often collaging on to a paper support the small figurines or other mass-produced objects that characterize popular culture, Porter juxtaposes these with more traditional artistic interventions such as painting or drawing. Porter thereby creates absurd, yet emotionally imbued dialogues between our preconceptions of what is real and what is imagined, as well as what is high or popular art.
Alice Rahon (b. Chenecey-Buillon, France, 1904 – d. Mexico City, Mexico, 1987)
Alice Rahon began her creative career as a poet. In the early 1930’s, the artist traveled internationally with her then husband, Wolfgang Paalen, exploring countries such as Greece, Spain and India. In India, she befriended surrealist poet, Valentine Penrose, and published her first collection of poems, which gained her critical acclaim after receiving admiration from André Breton. In 1939, Rahon was invited to Mexico by Frida Kahlo; she settled there permanently with the outbreak of World War II. Rahon claimed that Mexico’s vibrant colors inspired her to abandon writing and turn to painting, and in 1940, she showed her work at the International Exhibition of Surrealism. The artist integrated sand in her paintings to further accentuate the features she saw as elements of the landscape and flora of Mexico, where she lived and worked until her death in 1987.
Rosângela Rennó (b. Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1962)
Rosângela Rennó is a Brazilian artist who looks to photography in order to explore the medium’s ontological nature. Often appropriating pictures taken from family albums, Rennó explores the conventional roles assumed by couples in the domestic environment. In the Nuptias series, she alters family portraits by adding objects, text and theatrical dress to the subjects depicted. By doing so, she challenges the traditional value of portraiture, while also bringing to question the practice of historical documentation, particularly when appropriating anonymous discarded photographs that serve to record idealized inter-personal relationships such as love and marriage.
Lotty Rosenfeld (b. Santiago, Chile, 1943)
Interdisciplinary artist, Lotty Rosenfeld, has been recognized for her personal actions in the public realm most often in defiance of political authorities. Arguably the most emblematic of Rosenfeld’s work is Una milla de cruces sobre el pavimento (A Mile of Crosses on the Pavement) from which the photograph Palacio de la Moneda was taken. By placing white tape perpendicularly across the white dashed lines along a mile long section of the public highway, the impression is that of a cemetery with a seemingly endless line of crosses. Beyond being an act of defacement and a reassignment of traffic signs’ legal status, the action effectively filled the public space with a violation against social order. The photograph of the cross taped directly in front of Palacio de la Moneda, the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s brutally repressive regime, bears silent witness. It acts as a reminder of the unmarked burial grounds of those disappeared or killed during the dictatorship.
Mira Schendel (b. Zurich, Switzerland, 1919 – d. São Paulo, Brazil, 1988)
Mira Schendel was brought up in Italy where she studied philosophy before fleeing in 1939. Traveling first throughout central Europe and then returning to Italy after the war, Schendel emigrated to Brazil with her husband in 1949. Later arriving to São Paulo in 1953, she discovered a rich artistic environment. Although initially influenced by the Neoconcrete movement, Schendel soon established an individual artistic style, in which she employed language and hand-written scribbles on atypical mediums. The artist first began producing works on rice paper after receiving it as a gift in 1964. Her early creations on this almost transparent surface render an intimate and gentle exploration of space and language, evoking a visceral reaction in the viewer. Also pondering on themes of temporality, displacement, and identity, Schendel poetically merges semiotics, religion and post-structural concepts in later works, such as Typewriting (1974).
Vivian Suter (b. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1949)
Born in Argentina to exiled Austrian parents who fled Europe in the 1930s, Vivian Suter studied art in Basel, Switzerland as a young girl. After traveling throughout North and South America, Suter settled permanently in Panahachel, Guatemala in 1982. Living on the grounds of a former coffee plantation close to Lake Atitlán, Suter is best known for her large-scale abstract paintings on unstretched canvases. The artist often responds to the lush tropical surroundings by allowing works to be exposed to sunlight or rain, and the natural elements surrounding her, often incorporating mud, straw and dirt on the surface of the work. Suter continues to live and work in Guatemala.
Adriana Varejão (b. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1964)
In Adriana Varejão’s abstract sculptural pieces, the artist uses ceramic tiles as a medium capable of conveying a sensorial corporality. Inspired by Brazil’s colonial history, Varejão reinterprets the Portuguese ‘azulejos’ tiles, which were exported to Brazil since the 16th century colonization period and were major elements used in Brazilian Baroque architecture. The artist manipulates contemporary tiles during the firing process to create a seemingly organic surface cracked over time into which bloody-like forms are often inserted. In this way, Varejão offers a critical perspective on Brazil’s fractured, turbulent and often violent past.
Sandra Vásquez de la Horra (b. Viña del Mar, Chile, 1967)
After moving to Dusseldorf in 1995, Sandra Vásquez de la Horra developed her signature graphic style. Deploying a technique in which the graphite drawings on paper are sealed with a sepia-tone wax, Vásquez de la Horra creates compositions that acquire a vintage-like quality and corporeal fragility. The fantastical subjects may be seen as references to children’s literature, fairy tales, as well as the syncretic imagery of Santería and Catholic practices she experienced while growing up in Brazil. By juxtaposing the shadowy ghoulish figures delicately drawn and preserved within a wax second skin, de la Horra suggests an imaginary world that feels as sinister as it is beautiful.
Yeni & Nan (est. Caracas, Venezuela, 1977)
Jennifer Hackshaw and María Luisa González began working together as a collective in 1977 after meeting at the Cristóbal Rojas art school in Caracas. The duo’s multifaceted work seeks to embody their own identity, specifically in relation to personal and shared space, as well as natural and psychological changes of the human form. In Transfiguraciones elementos tierra, Yeni & Nan linked their bodies to more abstract natural cycles. By utilizing their own bodies as medium, they bring to light larger questions regarding the female figure, and concurrently emphasize their environmental awareness. Yeni & Nan’s work can be considered a reference for conceptual art in Venezuela.