New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930 2006: Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions

Nov 21, 2007–Feb 25, 2008


  • MoMA, Floor 3, Exhibition GalleriesThe Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries
  • MoMA, Floor 2, Exhibition GalleriesThe Paul J. Sachs Prints and
    Illustrated Books Galleries

This exhibition presents some two hundred works by Latin American artists that have been added to the collection over the past ten years. The works on view embrace several artistic mediums and comprises a variety of styles, from early modernism and geometric abstraction to informalism and conceptual art.

New Perspectives in Latin American Art surveys the wide range of these recent acquisitions and features both historical and contemporary Latin American artists, including Joaquín Torres-García, Alejandro Otero, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Carmen Herrera, Geraldo de Barros, Leo Matiz, Willys de Castro, León Ferrari, Gego, Gerd Leufert, Mira Schendel, Waltercio Caldas, Anna Maria Maiolino, Victor Grippo, Guillermo Kuitca, Arturo Herrera, Gabriel Orozco, Carlos Garaicoa, and Santiago Cucullu.

The exhibition is organized by Luis Pérez-Oramas, The Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art.

Exhibition Includes Over 200 Works of Art, Comprising Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings,
Prints, Photographs, and Media Works
New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006:
Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions
The Paul J. Sachs Prints and Illustrated Books Galleries, Second Floor, and
The Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries, Third Floor
November 21, 2007–February 25, 2008

New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006:
Selections from a Decade of Acquisitions presents some 200 works by Latin American artists
that have been added to the collection over the past ten years. Including drawings, illustrated
books, media works, paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures, the exhibition embraces a
diversity of artistic mediums and comprises a variety of styles. New Perspectives in Latin
American Art emphasizes MoMA’s sharpened focus on Latin American acquisitions since 1996, and
covers periods and artists that were overlooked in the past, offering a more accurate view of the
broad and varied range that exists in Latin American modern and contemporary art.
The exhibition is organized by Luis Pérez-Oramas, The Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin
American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and will be on view from November 21, 2007 through
February 25, 2008, in The Paul J. Sachs Prints and Illustrated Books Galleries, Second Floor, and
The Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries, Third Floor, as well as in the hallways and the stairway
between the two floors.
The selection of works in the exhibition encompasses a chronological timeframe between
1930 and 2006—parallel to the Museum’s lifespan. Works in the show are organized by themes,
stylistic relationships, and visual analogies to one another, not necessarily by chronology or
movement. The oldest work, Color Structure (1930), is a painting by Joaquín Torres-García
(Uruguay), and the most recent one, Architectonic vs. HR (2006), is a print series by Santiago
Cucullu (Argentina). The entire repertoire of certain artists will be presented through prints,
drawings, and three-dimensional objects, including the works of León Ferrari (Argentina) and Mira
Schendel (Brazil)—two artists to be featured in a 2009 MoMA exhibition titled León Ferrari and
Mira Schendel: Written Paintings/Objects of Silence.
For the first time in the history of the Museum, the full array of movements and artistic
mediums associated with early Constructivist trends in Latin America are on display in a selection
of seminal works. Included in these galleries are works by Joaquín Torres-García (Uruguay),
Gyula Kosice (Argentina), Hélio Oiticica (Brazil), Lygia Clark (Brazil), Sérgio Camargo (Brazil),
Willys de Castro (Brazil), Gego (Venezuela), Gerd Leufert (Venezuela), Alejandro Otero
(Venezuela), Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan), and Carmen Herrera (Cuba).
Mr. Pérez-Oramas explains, “This exhibition comes at a time of momentum in Latin
American initiatives in the Museum, created through the newly established Latin American and
Caribbean Fund and generous endowments and donations that have enabled new curatorial and
research positions and projects in the field. Furthermore, it renews a tradition of presenting Latin
American acquisitions that was established by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., in the early 1940s.”
While some of the artists whose works are featured in the show, such as Lygia Clark
and Hélio Oiticica, are known internationally, others are completely new to U.S. audiences.
Meaningful connections can be made, for instance, between Neo-Constructivists such as Oiticica
and Kosice, and the current interest among contemporary artists in territoriality, architecture,
construction, and the phenomenology of time—as seen in the works of Victor Grippo (Argentina),
Marco Maggi (Uruguay), Eugenio Dittborn (Chile), Los Carpinteros (Cuba), and Rivane
Neuenschwander (Brazil).
The earliest work in the exhibition, Joaquín Torres-García’s Construction in White and
Black (1938), belongs to a series of gridded, bichromatic, abstract compositions made between
1935 and the early 1940s. In this work, irregular, geometric forms evoke primal architectonic
structures, and the dramatic contrast between light and shadow on the many planes creates an
effect of depth and volume. The painting reflects the artist’s deep engagement with the
indigenous art and architecture of the Americas and, in particular, his interest in Incan stonework.
The strong shading in each rectangular compartment gives the impression of stacked blocks,
visually mimicking Incan masonry.
Alejandro Otero’s series Ortogonales (Collages) 1–10, (1951–52) is among the earliest
examples of nonobjective abstraction in the Americas. These works were the precursor to Otero’s
monumental murals for the City University in Caracas, one of the most important regional projects
of the mid-twentieth century, and the inspiration for the artist’s late series Colorythms and
Tablones. Inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942–43), which is also in
MoMA’s collection, the grid of colored lines in Ortogonales is a dynamic structure that seems to
have a visual existence beyond the two-dimensional structure of conventional painting.
Lygia Clark’s Poetic Shelter (1960) is one of a series of movable metal sculptures titled
Bichos (Critters) that make reference to animals and organic structures. Sundial (1960), another
Clark sculpture in the same gallery, is from the same series. Poetic Shelter is a key piece in which
Clark presents a painted metal structure that liberates plane and line from their inanimate
condition and recovers their vitality through movement and transformation in space.
Gego’s (Gertrude Goldschmidt) Drawing without Paper (1988) belongs to a series of works
with the same title, created between the mid-1970s and the late 1980s, consisting of threedimensional metallic structures made of wire, wood, thread, and various found objects, which
function as drawings in space. This particular Drawing without Paper contains a fragment of one of Gego’s signature repertoires, the Reticuláreas—geometric, weblike structures that can be configured in an endless number of ways.
Sergio Camargo’s Orée (1962) belongs to a limited series of works the artist made in the
early 1960s. In this key sculpture, a rough piece of wood serves as a base for a patterned relief
that is inserted into it.
Mira Schendel’s Droguinha (c. 1964–66) is one of the artist’s most significant threedimensional works. Titled with a slang expression that signifies “nothing” or “something
worthless,” it is composed of knotted rice paper that Schendel intertwined by hand, evoking the
act of weaving.
León Ferrari’s Reflections (Reflexiones) (1963) belongs to a limited series of threedimensional drawings made in the early 1960s, generically called Writings in the Air. A boxlike
object, Reflections is contained by two flat surfaces composed of intricate, abstract, gestural ink
lines on paper and glass. The wires contained within it reproduce the convoluted lines of the
drawing at the back of the box, one of Ferrari’s stylistic signatures of the 1960s. Works like these
represent a form of organic abstraction and can be linked to more recent artists from
Latin America such as Ana Mendieta (Cuba), Guillermo Kuitca (Argentina), Gabriel Orozco
(Mexico), José Damasceno (Brazil), and Arturo Herrera (Venezuela), whose works also appear in
the exhibition.
Victor Grippo’s Life, Death, Resurrection (1980) is one of the most important
achievements in the artistic career of this leading figure in Latin American Conceptualism. This
sculptural installation includes a violin filled with corn, a worm-eaten piece of found wood, and
lead forms that are filled with and surrounded by red beans.
Popular imagery and everyday life play an important role in the work of many artists from
the region, as seen in works in the exhibition by Alejandro Xul Solar (Argentina), Cildo Meireles
(Brazil), Enrique Metinides (Mexico), and Álvaro Barrios (Colombia), alongside recent productions
by artists such as Vik Muniz (Brazil), Fernando Bryce (Peru), Carlos Amorales (Mexico), and
Ernesto Neto (Brazil).
Álvaro Barrios’s Popular Prints series (1974–84), also known as Grabados populares, were
an alternative to producing traditional limited editions; they were issued in great numbers, printed
in local newspapers, and signed by Barrios for anyone who asked him to do so. These prints often
display the lush, dreamlike quality found in his paintings and collages, which combine art
historical, cultural, and religious references in fantastic and surreal scenes.
Eugenio Dittborn’s Airmail painting (1983) is one of a series created with pencil, gouache,
and stamps on kraft paper, that were normally folded and then mailed in large envelopes to
various artistic venues. The creases in this work were created by the repeated folding and
unfolding of the large sheet of paper throughout its journey, a feature that underlines the physical
quality of passing time. By repeating the icon of a house in each compartment, Dittborn questions
the concept of a transient place where one is in constant arrival and departure.
MoMA and Latin American and Caribbean Art
With over 3,000 works, MoMA currently holds the world’s most comprehensive collection of Latin
American and Caribbean art, representing important figures in early modernism, figurative
expressionism, surrealism, abstraction, and conceptual and contemporary art. The Museum’s long
history of collecting from the region began in the 1930s, when it became the first institution
outside Latin America to collect, display, and study this art. Through those activities, MoMA
played an important role in shaping the perception of Latin American and Caribbean art in the
United States.
Alfred H. Barr, MoMA’s founding director, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, its cofounder, were
early champions of the inclusion of Latin American artists in MoMA’s collection. Mrs. Rockefeller
donated the first such works, with a gift of 36 paintings and 105 drawings, including important
works by Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. The tradition continued throughout the
twentieth century, with important gifts from Nelson and David Rockefeller shaping the collection,
and continues today under the leadership of MoMA Director Glenn D. Lowry. Over the past ten
years, 530 works by Latin American and Caribbean artists have been acquired with support from
Kathy Fuld, Agnes Gund, Mimi Haas, Marlene Hess, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, and Anna Marie
and Robert Shapiro, and others.
The exhibition is made possible by Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., with additional support from the
Friends of Contemporary Drawing of The Museum of Modern Art.
Works of Art as Objects
Thursday, January 24, 2008, 6:30 p.m.
The Celeste Bartos Theater, 4 West 54 Street
To complement the exhibition New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006: Selections
from a Decade of Acquisitions, scholars will explore the ways in which selected seminal works and
artists revolutionized the visual arts in their countries in a given period. Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro,
curator of Latin American art, Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin,
examines Gyula Kosice’s Mobile Articulated Sculpture (1948); Juan Carlos Ledezma,
independent curator, focuses on Alejandro Otero’s Ortogonales (1951–52); Amy Rosenblum
Martín, assistant curator, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, examines Mira Schendel’s Droguinha
(1967); and Anna Indych-Lopéz, assistant professor of art, The City College of New York, The
City University of New York, discusses Victor Grippo’s Life, Death, Resurrection (1980). Luis
Pérez-Oramas, The Estrellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art at MoMA and organizer of
the exhibition, moderates the discussion.
Contemporary Poetry from Latin America
Wednesday, February 13, 2008, 6:30 p.m.
The Celeste Bartos Theater, 4 West 54 Street
The Museum of Modern Art invites selected poets to read their own poetry, and to respond to
works on view in the exhibition New Perspectives in Latin American Art, 1930–2006: Selections
from a Decade of Acquisitions.
This program is part of the Modern Poets series, which revitalizes Frank O’Hara’s legacy and
MoMA’s historical commitment to poetry by inviting poets to bring the literary tradition to the
Museum’s collection. Poets read historical works and their own work, reflecting on modern and
contemporary art.
Tickets for both events ($10; members $8; students, seniors, and staff of other museums $5) can
be purchased at the lobby information desk, the Film desk, or online at
Press Contact: Meg Blackburn, 212/708-9757 or
For downloadable high-resolution images, please register at
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