Anatol Wladyslaw (Brazil, 1930), Abstrato (Abstract), 1950, Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 28 3⁄4 x 1", Courtesy Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Alfredo Hlito (Argentina, 1923-1993), Ritmos cromaticos III (Chromatic Rhythms III), 1949, Oil on canvas, 39-3/8 x 39-3/8", Courtesy Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Hélio Oiticica, (Brazil, 1937-1980), Untitled, from the series Grupo Frente, 1955, Gouache on paper, 15-3⁄4 x 15-3⁄4", Courtesy Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Geraldo de Barros (Brazil, 1923?Y?N1998), Funcao diagonal (Diagonal Function), 1952, Lacquer on cardboard, 11-1/8 x 11-15/16", Courtesy Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
Grey Art Gallery
New York University
100 Washington Square East
The Geometry of Hope:
Latin American Abstract Art
from the Patricia Phelps
de Cisneros Collection
September 12-December 8, 2007
The Geometry of Hope was organized by the Blanton Museum of Art, at The University of Texas at Austin, where it was seen earlier this year and encompassed some 130 works. The exhibition and its catalogue were the culminating project of the Cisneros Graduate Research Seminar at The University, a multi-year scholarly collaboration between the New York- and Caracas-based CPPC and the Blanton, headed by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, curator of Latin American Art at the Blanton and organizer of the exhibition.
The Geometry of Hope focuses on key cities in the development of abstraction in the Americas: Montevideo (1930s), Buenos Aires (1940s), São Paulo (1950s), Rio de Janeiro (1950s-60s), Paris (1960s), and Caracas (1960s-70s). In tracing the flow of ideas from one socio-geographic context to another, the exhibition challenges the view of Latin American art as a single phenomenon, revealing important differences and tensions among various artistic proposals articulated during the decades under examination. For example, Joaquín Torres-García’s fusion of ancient American art with Neo-Plasticism was roundly rejected by the next generation of ardent Marxists in Argentina. And the rational and internationalist aspirations of the São Paulo concretists of the 1950s were reinterpreted and charged with specific Brazilian references by the neoconcretists in Rio de Janeiro. The exhibition’s inclusion of Paris as a “Latin American” city underscores the cosmopolitan and international nature of Latin American abstraction — characteristics that are often ignored in American and European accounts of the history of modern art.
The exhibition includes work by approximately 30 artists. Among them are Joaquín Torres-García, from Montevideo; Alfredo Hlito and Tomás Maldonado, from Buenos Aires; Geraldo de Barros and Waldemar Cordeiro, from São Paulo; Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark, from Rio de Janeiro; and Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez, from Paris and Caracas.
The Caracas-and-New York-based Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros focuses on modern and contemporary art from Latin America, and includes as well Latin American landscapes from the seventeenth century to the present day and Venezuelan colonial art. Works from the CPPC form the basis of diverse educational and public programming, ranging from programs for teachers and students to international symposia. Among these is Piensa en Arte, a visual-arts education program designed to use art to build students’ observational, expressive-language, and critical-thinking skills. For additional information, visit www.coleccioncisneros.org.
Alejandro Otero (Venezuela, 1921-1990), Tablon de Pampatar (Pampatar board), 1954, Lacquer on wood, 126-3/16 x 25-9/16 x 1", Courtesy Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.