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Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Guatemala, Jan 7, 1933).

Guatemalan painter and printmaker. From 1954 to 1957 he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City while researching folk art for the Dirección de Bellas Artes, but he was virtually self-taught and began as a draftsman and painter of bullfighting scenes. In 1958 he traveled to New York on a Guatemalan government grant, prolonging his stay there with further grants, studying at the Arts Students League and Graphic Art Center, and finally settling there permanently. He was influential in Guatemala until c. 1960, but because of his long residence abroad his work did not fit easily in the context of Central American art. Before leaving Guatemala he had painted landscapes and nudes in a naturalistic style, but he soon adopted a more modern idiom partly inspired by aboriginal Guatemalan subjects. After moving to New York, and especially from 1958 to 1961, his art underwent a profound transformation as he sought to bring together elements of abstract art and Surrealism and experimented with textures, for example in cross-hatched pen-and-ink drawings such as ...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Le Havre, Oct 19, 1938).

Panamanian painter and printmaker of French birth. He first studied with the figurative painter Alberto Dutary but established himself in the 1960s as one of the few abstract artists in Panama with paintings such as Green Force (Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.), which attest to the influence of American Abstract Expressionism; in other works he was also influenced by Post-painterly Abstraction. During a visit to Japan in 1969 he came into contact with Japanese art and Zen Buddhism, after which he sought to achieve the maximum impact of form and color through reduction to essentials. The techniques used in his acrylic paintings and drawings were well suited also to screenprints such as the series Form and Space (1975; Panama City, Gal. Etcétera). Alvarado was also active in organizing exhibitions for others and promoting the arts in Panama as director from 1970 to 1975 of the Departmento de Artes Plásticas of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Deportes....

Article

Aleca Le Blanc

(b São Paulo, Jun 20, 1914; d São Paulo, Dec 22, 2010).

Brazilian visual artist and designer. The formal training Barsotti received was in drawing and chemistry, and by the 1950s he had established a professional career in design, working in São Paulo during the postwar period. From 1954 to 1964 he ran a studio with Willys de Castro (1926–1988), a life-long collaborator and fellow artist, called Estúdio de Projetos Gráficos, where he created costume design, graphic design, and textile design, among other things. During this period he focused his artistic efforts exclusively on geometric abstraction, then the dominant style of the avant-garde in Brazil under the rubric of Concrete art. However, Barsotti did not immediately affiliate with any of the groups that promoted it, such as the dogmatic Grupo Ruptura in São Paulo. He was not, strictly speaking, a devotee of Concrete art, which required that the geometric composition be entirely preconceived, divorced from observed reality, and visually represent a mathematical formula. On this matter, de Castro applauded his friend in a ...

Article

J. Harwood

revised by Maria-Laura Steverlynck

(b Montevideo, Nov 6, 1902; d Montevideo, Jun 2, 1985).

Uruguayan painter. Costigliolo studied painting as part of the Bellas Artes group in Montevideo between 1921 and 1925 under the teachings of planista painters Vicente Puig (1882–1965) and Guillermo Laborde (1886–1940), followed by a period of graphic art production between 1929 and 1946. The period 1946–1950 heralded a stage of neo-purist, machinist art and abstraction, following which Costigliolo became a key figure in the development of non-figurative art in Uruguay, co-founding the Grupo de Arte No Figurativo in 1952. In 1953, during a time of economic prosperity and optimism in his country, Costigliolo entered his non-representational phase, revolutionizing and modernizing Uruguayan art along with his wife, María Freire. In the creation of innovative abstract art that embraced both national and international traditions, Costigliolo’s concrete geometric aesthetic owed a debt to, and expanded on, the work of such Uruguayan precursors as the hugely influential Joaquín Torres Garcia, as well as the ideals of Russian Constructivism and ...

Article

Xavier Moyssén

(b Mexico City, Feb 9, 1893; d Mexico City, Feb 14, 1975).

Mexican sculptor, painter, and decorative artist. He studied briefly at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in Mexico City but was fundamentally self-taught. In 1925 he was associated with Estridentismo, an avant-garde literary and artistic movement with which he exhibited caricature masks painted in strong expressive colors on glossy card, for example Germán List Arzubide (1926; Mexico City, priv. col., see List Arzubide 1927, 6). Between 1927 and 1932 he lived in France and Spain; he visited the studios of Brancusi, Gargallo, and Lipchitz in Paris, but he was especially influenced by his contact there with Joaquín Torres García. It was during this time that he became committed to abstraction, for example in his stone carving Napoleon (1931; Mexico City, priv. col., see Moyssén 1981, no. 1).

Cueto produced not only sculptures in a variety of materials, but also mosaics and puppets. The avant-garde aesthetics of his exclusively abstract art failed to find acceptance, however, on his return to Mexico, and he was likewise unwilling to yield to the ideologically committed art that was then dominant. Instead he continued his experimental work in a variety of techniques and materials, as in the undated ...

Article

Leyla Dunia

(b Caracas, Mar 14, 1925).

Venezuela painter, sculptor, and muralist. He was a prominent artist of the abstract movement in Venezuela. His best-known work uses cylinders, cubes, and other volumetric shapes displayed serially in order to investigate the dialog between geometric forms and light. From 1940 to 1945 he studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Caracas. In 1945 he participated in a students’ protest that aspired to revolutionize the pedagogical system of the academy, considering it obsolete and restricted. The leaders of the protest were expelled and created the groups La Barraca de Guaicaipuro and La Barraca de Mariperez, in which Debourg was an active participant. In 1948 he assisted the Taller Libre de Arte, attracted by their experimentation with figuration and cubism. In 1949 he traveled to Paris and started working with geometry and abstractionism. In 1950 he joined the group of Venezuelan artists and intellectuals Los Disidentes, who were interested in abstract-geometric visual language and what they considered to be an esthetic renewal of the Venezuelan art canon. Debourg participated in the group’s discourse not only through his paintings but also by publishing several articles in the homonym magazine ...

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Vasto, Chietti, Oct 5, 1897; d Buenos Aires, Feb 14, 1987).

Argentine painter and sculptor of Italian birth. He lived in Argentina from 1909, becoming an Argentine citizen in 1929. In 1925 he began submitting work to national and provincial salons, and in 1926 his first one-man exhibition was held at the Asociación Amigos del Arte in Buenos Aires; the latter also awarded him a scholarship to study in Paris, where he remained until his return to Argentina in 1933.

Del Prete, who exhibited with Abstraction-Création in Paris in 1933 and was in productive contact with Hans Arp, Massimo Campigli, Georges Vantongerloo, Joaquín Torres García, and Jean Hélion, is generally considered an important precursor of abstract art in Argentina. He was self-taught, intuitive, rebellious, and independent and had demonstrated a receptiveness to contemporary artistic developments even before traveling to Europe. On his return to Argentina he exhibited a series of abstract plaster carvings as well as works made of wire, maquettes for stage sets, and masks....

Article

Rita Eder

(b Mexico City, Jul 28, 1934; d Mexico City, Sept 16, 2010).

Mexican sculptor and museum director. Escobedo attended Mexico City College (now Universidad de las Américas) in 1951, where she was introduced to sculpture by the renowned abstract sculptor Germán Cueto. Awarded a traveling scholarship to the Royal College of Art, London (1951–1954), Escobedo met luminaries of European sculpture, including Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein, and Ossip Zadkine, who profoundly influenced her sense of organic integrity in form and material. It became clear to her that sculpture as museum piece or domestic ornament did not fulfill her objectives. During the 1960s and early 1970s Escobedo created works on a monumental scale and became well known for such ambitious urban sculptures as Signals (painted aluminum, h. 15 m, 1971), sited at Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, and Doors to the Wind (painted reinforced concrete, h. 17 m, 1968) at Anillo Periférico and Calzada del Hueso on the Olympic Friendship Route, Mexico. From the 1980s she directed her work towards ecological and humanitarian issues. A number of site-specific installations and performances explored the theme of the densely populated metropolis of Mexico City. While conscious of the social meaning of art, her approach was abstract and conceptual rather than overtly realist. She used natural materials, such as interwoven branches and grass, or the detritus of urban life. As a cultural promoter, she held such positions as director (1958–1982) of the museum of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where she developed a program of exhibitions in tune with the aspirations of a new generation of writers, painters, sculptors, and filmmakers renovating the arts in Mexico and supported by the National University. She was also director (1982–1984) of the Museo de Arte Moderno where she projected the image of the museum as a place with a vision of the present and the future which meant attracting new audiences by changing the roles of the artistic system and softening the barriers between artists, spectator, and critics. The structural change in the function of art influenced her exhibition policy where she had the collaboration of young generations of artists interested in relational aesthetics....

Article

Megan A. Sullivan

Term applied retrospectively to a range of non-figurative art characterized by a reliance on geometric forms and a rejection of representation, illusionistic space, and symbolic meaning. Pioneered in early 20th-century Europe by Kazimir Malevich, the Russian Constructivists (see Constructivism, §1), and the Dutch de Stijl group, among others, geometric abstraction found new adherents in the urban centers of many Latin American countries from the 1940s through the 1960s, most prominently in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Despite declining in popularity in the last decades of the 20th century, it still maintains a presence in art practice in the region.

Scholars generally agree that geometric abstraction from Latin America cannot be encapsulated within a single regional framework or conceived of as a unified continental movement. While many of its practitioners knew each other’s work through exhibitions, publications, and travel, ties with European predecessors were often stronger. Not only did Latin American artists position their projects in dialogue with developments of abstract painting in Europe, they also often conceived of their work in universal—rather than national or regional—terms....

Article

José Miguel Rojas

(b San José, April 16, 1909; d San José, 1986).

Costa Rican painter, draughtsman and writer. A self-taught artist, in 1934 he joined the Círculo de Amigos del Arte founded in 1928 by Teodorico Quirós and Max Jiménez, collaborating with Quirós on a mural in encaustic for the group’s meeting-place, Las Arcadas in San José. In 1946–7 he founded the Teatro Experimental. He started teaching in the fine arts faculty of the Universidad de Costa Rica in San José, but in 1949 he left the country for political reasons and went to Havana. During this period he started a series of nudes and pictures of Cuban peasant girls (goajiras; e.g. Goajira, 1954; artist’s col., see Ulloa Barrenechea, p. 106) in Indian ink with a scraping or sgraffito technique, in which the forms were simplified and stylized. The influence of Wifredo Lam is evident in these works.

In 1952 González went to Venezuela, where his painting was influenced by the geometric abstraction followed by the group Los Disidentes (e.g. ...

Article

W. Iain Mackay

(b Bordeaux, Sept 13, 1907; d Lima, June 4, 1970).

Peruvian painter, teacher, and photographer of French birth. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, Lima, under José Sabogal from 1920 before attending the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in 1924. In 1925 he left to study under Fernand Léger, André Lhôte, and Othon Friesz, among others, and he took part in various salons in Paris during the 1930s. His work at this time was influenced particularly by that of Cézanne, Matisse, and Braque. In 1937 Grau returned to Peru, becoming one of the first representatives in Latin America of modern European painting, which stood in contrast with the Indigenist style then prevalent in Peru. Grau taught at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima (1942) and was Director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes from 1945 to 1949. During this period his palette brightened, and by the 1950s he was showing considerable interest in Surrealism and in the art of such Pre-Columbian cultures as the Nazca and Chimú and particularly the Vicús (of which he had a substantial collection of artifacts). He returned to abstract art in the 1960s, using color as an independent means of expression. In ...

Article

Blanca Serrano Ortiz de Solórzano

(b Havana, May 30, 1915).

Cuban painter and sculptor active in the USA. Enjoying an extraordinarily long career, Herrera received critical and financial recognition very late in her life, selling her first painting at the age of 89. Raised in an intellectual milieu in Havana, she attended finishing school in Paris. Back in Cuba, where the political turmoil affected access to education, Herrera studied sculpture at the women’s organization The Lyceum and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1938 she enrolled in Architecture at Universidad de La Habana, an experience that left a significant impression in Herrera’s creative thinking. An active participant of the Cuban arts scene then, she was close to avant-garde artist Amelia Peláez.

In 1939 Herrera married the American Jesse Lowenthal, with whom she moved to New York City. During this period, Herrera studied at the Art Students League, and she befriended Barnett Newman and Leon Polk Smith. From 1948 to 1954 she and her husband lived in Paris. While in France, Herrera exhibited five times at the Salon des Realités Nouvelles, an association of international abstract artists with a special focus on concrete painting. She also met Yves Klein and American expat artists, and saw the work of Russian Constructivists and of the multidisciplinary Swiss artist, Max Bill. These encounters nurtured her paintings from that period, which evolved from a Surrealist-inflected lyrical abstraction to a vibrant and rhythmic geometric abstraction....

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, May 4, 1923; d 1993).

Argentine painter. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires from 1938 to 1942 and in 1945 was a founder-member of the Asociación Arte Concreto Invención. He played a leading role in the development of abstract art in Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s. From 1945 he worked in a Constructivist style that took as its starting-point the notion of a line fracturing the plane in the work of Joaquín Torres García; by the early 1950s this was elaborated into compositions of pure geometrical forms. From 1954 to 1962 he explored effects of vibrating color, first using discernible forms conveyed in a pointillist technique and then by juxtaposing lightly applied flat brushstrokes in diluted colors to create a shimmering veil-like surface.

While living in Mexico from 1963 to 1973, Hlito developed a vocabulary of rhythmic, fundamentally organic forms using curved lines; these led to acrylic paintings in a vertical format in which vibrant atmospheres, interpenetrated by dynamic planes, generated monumental spaces of glittering color. In ...

Article

David Boxer

(b Portland, Jamaica, Jan 25, 1931; d St Catherine, Jamaica, Jun 15, 1980).

Jamaican painter. In 1953 he left Jamaica to study advertising design at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. In 1955, however, he moved to the Los Angeles County Art Institute, where he studied painting and graphic art for five years; he returned to Jamaica in the early 1960s and continued to work in advertising while painting and exhibiting regularly. In the 1960s and 1970s, along with Karl Parboosingh, he became a major force in the development of abstract art in Jamaica, and in 1970 he established in Kingston the John Peartree Gallery, which for ten years was to be the principal venue for exhibitions of abstract and modernist art in Jamaica. Hyde’s own art ranged from an Expressionism influenced by the American painter Rico Lebrun (1900–1964) in California in the late 1950s, to a more abstract vision developed in Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s, where the Abstract Expressionist style of New York provided the technical basis for extended series devoted principally to dance, the female nude, and Jamaican flora. After ...

Article

Leyla Dunia

(b Uracoa, Monagas, Oct 18, 1926; d Caracas, Mar 19, 2018).

Venezuelan painter, muralist, printmaker, and graphic designer. Manaure was a prolific artist who experimented with figuration and abstraction indistinctively. He is also considered a pioneer of graphic design in Venezuela. Born in a small city, his family moved to Caracas in 1936. At the age of ten Manaure started working in the typography section at La Nación printers and in 1941 he worked in the workshop of renewed artist Pedro Ángel González where he acquired an excellent foundation in graphic techniques, as shown in his later work. Until 1946 he studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Caracas under Antonio Edmundo Monsanto (1890–1948), Marcos Castillo, and Juan Vicente Fabbiani (1910–1989); he would later work there as an assistant professor. In 1947 he was awarded the Premio Nacional de Artes Plásticas and in 1948 he participated in the Taller Libre de Arte, an independent group that united the most important artists and intellectuals of the time....

Article

Iliana Cepero

(da Silva)

(b Rio de Janeiro, May 1, 1925; d Hamburg, Sept 3, 2018).

Brazilian painter and graphic designer active in Germany. From 1946 to 1949 Mavignier worked as an art therapist at the Psychiatric Hospital of Engenho de Dentro in Rio de Janeiro, a formative experience for his career, according to the artist. During the same period, he studied art with exiled European artists living in Rio, such as Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes (1897–1985), and Austrian printmaker Axl von Leskoschek (1889–1976). After showing geometric paintings in the Brazilian section of the I Bienal de São Paulo in 1951, Mavignier traveled to France with a scholarship from the French government. Once in Paris, he visited museums and studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Inspired by the French artist Jean Dewasne, who chose industrialized supports and made works by using enamel paint over plywood, Mavignier made his first concrete paintings with dots that he came to call “pigment accumulation.” He exhibited at the Salon de Mai in ...

Article

Iliana Cepero

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1960).

Brazilian painter, mixed media artist, and installation artist. From 1980 to 1982 she studied at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. Some of her fellow students were the painters Adriana Varejão and Daniel Senise (b 1955). Milhazes belongs to a generation of Brazilian artists who emerged in the 1980s and returned to painting. Some of these artists were Leda Catunda (b 1961), Jac Leirner, Cristina Canale (b 1961), José Leonilson (1957–1993), along with Varejão and Senise.

Her work is characterized by the use of vibrant colors and kaleidoscopic motifs drawn from Brazilian visual culture, including the floats and costumes of carnival, antique lacework, Baroque architecture, ceramics, and music. Her recurring set of circular, linear, and symmetrical colorful forms are carefully distributed inside a grid structure. She found inspiration in a wide variety of artists and movements, in Brazil and abroad, including Tarsila, Matisse, Bridget Riley, Sonia Delaunay, Mondrian, Cruz Diez, Constructivism, and geometric abstraction....

Article

Aleca Le Blanc

(b Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, Apr 7, 1927; d Rio de Janeiro, May 3, 2004).

Brazilian painter, printmaker, and multimedia artist. Known for small geometric paintings and woodblock prints in the 1950s, Pape radically expanded her practice in material and scale, working with dance, poetry, performance, and film over the course of a career that spanned five decades. Beginning in 1960, Pape found employment as a graphic designer, principally for the Piraque biscuit company, where she was responsible for visual branding, logos, and their iconic packaging. She also taught studio art in many contexts, from museum workshops to university courses, published art criticism, and curated exhibitions. In 1981 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Pape arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1952, and joined a cohort of young avant-garde artists who gathered at the recently founded Museu de Arte Moderna and who would become known for their affiliation with Brazilian Concrete and Neo-Concrete art. There she studied printmaking with Fayga Ostrower (1920–2001) in 1954, eventually producing a large body of woodcuts with geometric compositions, where a single shape—triangle, rectangle, circle—repeated across the picture plane. In the resulting impressions, one can detect the grain of the woodblock in the shapes and the natural fibers of the Japanese paper in the unprinted passages. Retrospectively titled ...

Article

Jorge Glusberg

(b La Plata, nr Buenos Aires, May 1, 1933; d Buenos Aires, July 23, 2013).

Argentine painter. In 1960 he joined Grupo Sí, which was moving towards a new form of abstract art that culminated in the use of the shaped canvas. By 1965 Puente was painting in a form of hard-edge abstraction. In 1967 he won a Guggenheim Fellowship and went to New York; he returned to Buenos Aires in 1971. In his painting he used geometrical motifs drawn from Pre-Columbian cultures, recycling the forms to integrate regional and universal elements in a Constructivist spirit. In 1985 he became a member of the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes. He won a number of prizes, including the Premio Fundación Gutemberg. Works by Puente are in the USA in the collections of the Center for Inter-American Relations, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Archer Huntington Art Gallery (all New York City); in Asunción, Paraguay, in the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asunción; and in Buenos Aires in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo....

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Casilda, Santa Fé, Jun 21, 1940; d 1992).

Argentine painter, draughtsman, and graphic designer. He studied drawing and painting in Santa Fé with the Argentine painters Gustavo Cochet (1894–1979) and Juan Grela (1914–1992) and began exhibiting his work in 1963. Until 1966 he was aligned with the work of Argentine painters grouped together under the label of Nueva Figuración (Luis Felipe Noé, Ernesto Deira, Jorge de la Vega, and Romulo Macció), combining figurative references with freer elements derived from Abstract Expressionism. During the next couple of years he worked simultaneously in two very different ways. In one group of works he adopted a rational style that had the formal simplicity of Minimalism and the emphasis on the transcendence of ideas over matter characteristic of conceptual art. One such work, Water in Every Part of the World (exh. Buenos Aires, Mus. A. Mod., 1967; see 1984 exh. cat., p. 13), consisted of fifty one-liter bottles filled with water, each bearing a label indicating its source of origin; the authenticity of the New York water was confirmed by Sol LeWitt, one of his collaborators on the project. During this same period, however, Renzi worked with other artists from the town of Rosario on ...