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Barrios, Alvaro  

Eduardo Serrano

(b Cartagena, Oct 27, 1945).

Colombian painter, sculptor, and conceptual artist. He studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of the University of Atlántico in Barranquilla, Colombia, from 1958 to 1960, and in Italy from 1966 to 1967 at the University of Perugia. In 1966, under the influence of Pop art, he made the first of a series of collages combining cut-outs of well-known individuals and comic strips with drawn elements. Two years later he added frosty effects and velvet flowers to his interpretations in black and red ink of figures with distorted bodies and the faces of film stars. In 1969 he began to present these in increasingly three-dimensional boxes or glass cases, accompanied by clouds of cotton wool, plastic figures, and other additions that combined to make up fantastic or nostalgic scenes, dream-like and surrealist in appearance and tone.

Barrios was among those who introduced conceptual art to Colombia, for example by publishing in newspapers a series of ...


Camnitzer, Luis  

Julia Detchon

(b Lübeck, 1937).

Uruguayan conceptual artist, critic, educator, and curator of German birth, active in the USA. Of Jewish ancestry, he fled with his family to Uruguay in 1939. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1953–1957 and 1959–1962, working with students to reform the school’s curriculum. In 1961, a Guggenheim fellowship took him to New York to study printmaking. Though he retained his Uruguayan citizenship, he settled permanently in New York, where he taught at the Pratt Graphics Art Center; co-founded the New York Graphic Workshop in 1964 with Liliana Porter (b 1941) and José Guillermo Castillo (1938–1999); and in 1971 helped establish New York’s Museo Latinoamericano and its subsequent splinter group, the Movimiento de Independencia Cultural de Latino América. From the 1970s, political repression in Latin America inspired a series of conceptual installations that addressed such issues as language, identity, freedom, political violence, and the role of art. For Camnitzer, the task of the artist was to identify and express the problems that surrounded him, transforming art into a political instrument. His questioning of traditional values applied not only to the themes of his work, but to its material form; employing objects of little intrinsic value, he rejected traditional notions of art as beautiful and of commercial worth....


Davidovich, Jaime  

Daniel R. Quiles

(b Buenos Aires, Sept 29, 1936; d New York, Aug 27, 2016).

Argentine painter, installation artist, conceptual artist, and video artist, active also in the USA. He is best known as experimental producer of early public-access cable programming. In 1946, at the age of 14, he began an apprenticeship with the artist Simón Feldman, an exponent of the teachings of André Lhote, an original member of the Section d’Or group in Paris who saw Cubism’s precepts as repeatable and teachable. Davidovich’s earliest exhibited paintings, c. 1950, demonstrate Lhotean figuration, but after seeing Mark Rothko and other abstract expressionists at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio in 1956, he quickly transitioned to gestural abstraction, the first in a career-long series of shifts in search of the most avant-garde styles or media. In 1960 Davidovich was recruited by the Arturo Frondizi government in Argentina to teach advanced art in Bahía Blanca, although he continued to exhibit regularly in Buenos Aires with the Arte Nuevo avant-gardes. In this period, he studied painting at the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires in ...


Fernández, Teresita  

Amy Rosenblum Martín

(b Miami, FL, May 12, 1968).

Cuban American conceptual artist. Known for her immersive installations and grand public art projects that represent natural phenomena, Fernández explored the potential of artifice to create authentic perceptual and psychological effects, and to reveal the degree to which reality is constructed. From 1997 she resided in Brooklyn, New York, and visited Japan for work almost yearly. She earned her BFA at Florida International University, Miami (1990) and her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (1992). She received a MacArthur Foundation“Genius Grant” (2005) and was the first Latina to serve on the US Commission of Fine Arts (2011–2014).

In her installations and public sculptures Fernández made sublime, abstracted waterfalls, wisteria, fire, stars, pools, ocean, beach, sand dunes, sunset, aurora borealis, bamboo, gardens, snow, clouds, fog, and dew. Her clearly artificial “nature” uncannily feels more real than reality. The experience of viewing her work shifts from seeing paint fade up a wall to being overtaken by the feeling of standing on a misty ...


Greco, Alberto  

Horacio Safons

(b Buenos Aires, Jan 14, 1915; d Barcelona, Oct 14, 1965).

Argentine painter, sculptor, performance artist, conceptual artist, poet, and illustrator. After studying in Buenos Aires at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and with Cecilia Marcovich and Tomás Maldonado, he quickly established a reputation for his scandalous views, attracting extreme disapproval and equally strong support. After delivering a lecture at the Juan Cristóbal bookshop, Buenos Aires, entitled “Alberto Greco y los pájaros” he was briefly imprisoned for his “Communism and subversive acts.” On his release in the same year he travelled to Paris on a French government grant, selling drawings and watercolors in the cafés and studying painting with Fernand Léger and printmaking with Johnny Friedlaender. Between 1956 and 1958 he lived in São Paulo, where he became aware of Art informel; he painted in this style in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Glusberg 1985, 284–285).

As early as 1959, when he had returned from São Paulo to Buenos Aires, Greco had expressed his corrosive vision of society through the form of his work. In his shows he exhibited tree trunks and rags for cleaning window gratings or floors. He moved again to Paris in ...


Katz, Leandro  

Daniel R. Quiles

(b Buenos Aires, Jun 6, 1938).

Argentine poet, photographer, conceptual artist, filmmaker, and educator. One of the founders of the literary magazine Airón (Heron, 1960–1965), he studied Philosophy and Literature at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. His career-long investigation into linguistic systems and alphabets appeared as early as his linotype-illustrated book OOOO (1961; see 2013 publication, 40–41). In 1962, in the midst of traveling through the Amazon to Central America, he helped found the Tzántzicos, an avant-garde poetry group in Quito, Ecuador. He moved to New York City in 1965, and his work gradually transitioned from poetry and prose to an interdisciplinary conceptualism. He worked as a set and lighting designer for Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company between 1968 and 1975. In 1970 he founded The Vanishing Rotating Triangle Press with Ted Castle and David Lee, an independent venture that translated Spanish books into English and vice versa, while also publishing Katz’s artist books and distributing Situationist-inspired “unauthorized publications.” In his first shift to the production of objects, in ...


Leirner, Jac(queline)  

Maeve Coudrelle

(b São Paulo, 1961).

Brazilian installation artist and sculptor. She studied at the private college Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP), São Paulo, from 1979 to 1984, earning her Licenciatura Plena there. Leirner is known for her compelling accumulations of consumer objects, which she organized and assembled into installations.

Leirner was introduced to contemporary art at an early age by her parents, Fúlvia and Adolfo Leirner, who had a large art collection that included Brazilian Constructivist work. During her time at FAAP, instructors there included Nelson Leirner (her uncle; b 1932), Julio Plaza (1938–2003), Regina Silveira (b 1939), and Walter Zanini (1925–2013). In 1981 she traveled to New York and Europe, where her interest in conceptual art, Minimalism, and Arte Povera developed. The next year, she had her first solo exhibition at the Galeria Tenda in São Paulo, where she showed Imagens objetuais (Objectual Images, 1982), a series of collages comprised of cord, wire, and paper. The series’ title highlights the ambiguity of the work of art, which is at once an image—a representation of something—and an object—a physical thing....


Mano, Rubens  

Sérgio B. Martins

(b São Paulo, 1960).

Brazilian multimedia artist and photographer. Mano graduated in 1984 from the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo de Santos, São Paulo. In the late 1980s he was part of a group of photographers hired by newspaper Folha de São Paulo as part of an effort to renew its photojournalism. Between 1992 and 1998 Mano formed, alongside Eli Sudbrack (b 1968), Everton Ballardin, and José Fujocka Neto (b 1969), the group Panoramas da Imagens, which organized exhibitions and symposia discussing photography theory and practice. While Mano never abandoned photography, his work gradually began to encompass other media. He is better known for works in public space addressing urban experience, social practices, and landscape.

Mano’s earliest major work was detetor de ausências (1994), commissioned for the second edition of Arte/Cidade—an urban intervention project conceived by philosopher and curator Nelson Brissac Peixoto. It consisted of two military-grade reflectors whose light beams intersected with a flyover at pedestrian level, thus engulfing vehicles and passersby. Like ...


Meireles, Cildo  

Denise Carvalho

revised by Mariana von Hartenthal

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1948).

Brazilian interventionist, multimedia, installation, and conceptual artist. Meireles is considered one of the most influential contemporary artists of his country. While international critics have compared his work with North American Minimalism and Conceptual art, Meireles insisted that art should be seductive. He studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes and at the Museu de Arte Moderna (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro. Coming of age at a time of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–1985), he circumvented strict state censorship with a series of interventionist works, adding politically charged texts and reinserting the works back into circulation.

In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970), Meireles printed the text “Yankees. Go Home!” onto Coca-Cola glass bottles which would enter circulation after they were returned to be refilled and sold. In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project (1970), the same message was printed on one dollar bills, and on the current Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro. Some bills also queried, “Who killed Herzog?” referring to a Brazilian journalist who died while in police custody. Meireles’ series subverts the mechanistic process of capitalistic insertion and circulation, adding phrases that question the methods and policies of the dictatorship. ...


Neuenschwander, Rivane  

Denise Carvalho

revised by Omar Olivares

(b Belo Horizonte, Nov 12, 1967).

Brazilian multimedia artist. Neuenschwander uses a variety of media, from intervention, installation, to conceptual and video art. Most of her work is interactive and focuses on communication, objects, and nature, letting the work of art develop with an amount of uncertainty. She studied at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and at the Royal College of Art in London. Some of her artistic endeavors have been compared to the work of Lygia Clark, as well as that of the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica.

In I Wish Your Wish (2003; exhibited at the Carnegie International in 2008), hundreds of participants were asked about their wishes, which were then silkscreened on colorful ribbons and exhibited in the gallery. Visitors then tied ribbons on their wrists, leaving a wish behind; the wish would come true only when the worn ribbon fell off, an idea based on a popular tradition of votive exchange. In ...


Ortega, Damián  

Iliana Cepero

(b Mexico City, 1967).

Mexican installation and conceptual artist. He dropped out of school when he was 16 years old and began making art on his own. Between 1987 and 1992 he attended the Taller de los Viernes (Friday Workshop), a series of informal meetings held at Gabriel Orozco’s studio bringing together young artists including Abraham Cruzvillegas, Gabriel Kuri (b 1970), and Dr. Lakra (b 1972). During that period, and deeply inspired by the political work of José Guadalupe Posada and of Mexican muralists, Ortega became a satirical cartoonist for local newspapers and magazines. This experience infused his future deconstructive and gravity-defying pieces with a sense of playfulness and wit.

Influenced by Duchamp’s ready-mades, Ortega appropriated and then reinvented everyday objects by placing them into a specific cultural context, turning them into unique-looking artifacts. For example, in Tortillas Construction Module (1998; 2014 exh. cat., 26), Ortega cut slits into the edges of fifty crisply baked tortillas (a Mesoamerican food staple) then fitted them together to create a structure resembling a modernist building. He dissected mundane objects into their constituent parts to further rearrange them into alternative formations. ...


Pitta, Matheus Rocha  

Sérgio B. Martins

(b Tiradentes, Jul 11, 1980).

Brazilian multimedia artist. Early in his career, Rocha Pitta practiced mainly photography, but soon turned to projects in which original and found images become juxtaposed with materials as diverse as earth, stone, food, newspapers cutouts, car parts, and cement. His interest lay not in the substantive sculptural quality of materials, but rather in their capacity to signify circulation, apprehension, conversion, and communal use, depending on the situation. His work often pits the commodity form against different conceptions of use and display drawn from universes as diverse as police photographs and religious art.

Provisional Heritage (2010), exhibited both at Sprovieri Gallery, London, and at the 29th Bienal de São Paulo, comprises photographs and a film recording the pouring of the contents of cans of expired tomato soup and coffee drink found at an abandoned factory in East London. The liquids act as tokens of failed commodity circulation in an area that was itself caught between dereliction and real-estate speculation. Failed monumentality is also a recurrent topic in his work. ...


Rodríguez, Ofelia  

J. Harwood

(b Barranquilla). Colombian painter and conceptual artist. Rodríguez trained in the Escuela de Bellas Artes at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá from 1964 to 1969. Between 1970 and 1972 she gained an MFA from Yale University, where she studied painting under Al Held and Lester Johnson. Although her early training was informed by Pop art, Rodríguez’s use of semi-abstract forms and bold contrasting colors, inspired by Colombia’s natural environment, often resulted in her work being stereotyped as “tropical.” The fantastic landscapes produced by the combining of these painted elements with added objects such as photographs or plastic toys earned her a reputation as a Surrealist. Within these imaginary landscapes mundane objects become magical, while the titles of such compositions hint at their deeper conceptual meaning. In later years, such additions figured more prominantly in Rodríguez’s canvases, as in Landscape with Red Live Tree (1990; Colchester, U. Essex, Coll. Latin Amer. A.), where the center of the work is occupied by a small cupboard containing a photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, watched over by a plastic toucan’s beak. These objects also relate to the artist’s parallel production of Magic Boxes, small, brightly painted montages that recall the popular art of Colombia in their use of color. Both interior and exterior surfaces are adorned with an assortment of everyday objects through which these boxes emerge as both dreamlike worlds and reflections on the complexity of modern Latin American life....


Salcedo, Bernardo  

Eduardo Serrano

(b Bogotá, Aug 12, 1941).

Colombian sculptor, collagist, and conceptual artist. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá from 1959 to 1965 and began at this time to make collages influenced by Pop art. In 1966 he made the first of his Boxes, painted in strong flat colors, often red or yellow, to which he affixed industrial elements such as telephone handsets. Soon afterwards he began to make only white boxes, using the color to complement the mystery of the objects they contained, such as the heads, arms, and legs of dolls, machine parts, wooden eggs, and domestic objects; the penetrating humor and arbitrariness with which he juxtaposed such things recalled the spirit of Dada.

In the 1970s Salcedo became involved for a time with conceptual art in mordantly critical and irreverent works, such as The National Coat of Arms (1973; Bogotá, Mus. A. Mod.). He subsequently returned, however, to sculptural objects, bringing together two or more previously unconnected elements into an unsuspected poetic unity when assembled. These in turn gave way to works concerned with the representation of water, for example a group of saw-blades aligned in wavelike patterns or rectangles of glass arranged to resemble rain. Some of these included human figures, bringing to bear a sense of solitude and anxiety that added to their poetry and suggestiveness....


Sosa, Antonieta  

Lelia Delgado

revised by Alana Hernandez

(b New York, Mar 1, 1940).

Venezuelan conceptual and performance artist. She studied psychology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas, and sat in on classes at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas “Cristóbal Rojas” (now the Escuela de Artes Visuales Cristóbal Rojas) in Caracas. In 1962–1966 she studied art at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating with a degree in Plastic Arts (1966). Sosa returned to Venezuela in 1966 and combined her work with investigations into the expressive possibilities of the body. She was a founder-member of the dance group Contradanza (1973–1976) and performed in Las cosas que nos pasan in Caracas. From 1970 she was highly active as a teacher of expression through movement and the plastic arts. In her work (examples in Caracas, Mus. B.A. and Ciudad Bolívar, Mus.) she reflected upon the surface and space and on the body as an instrument for the comprehension of such space. Sosa also used the chair as a structure from which to ponder the world, space, and the role of the spectator....



Adrian Locke

revised by Iliana Cepero

[De Barros Carvalho e Mello Mourão, Antonio José]

(b Palmares, Pernambuco, Feb 8, 1952; d Rio de Janeiro, Jun 6, 2016).

Brazilian conceptual, installation, video, and performance artist. He earned a degree in architecture from the Universidade Santa Ursula, Rio de Janeiro in 1974. In 1976 he co-founded and edited the alternative art journal Malasartes, along with fellow artists Cildo Meireles, José Resende (b 1945), and Waltercio Caldas (b 1946); Meireles and Tunga founded another art journal together, A parte do fogo, in 1980. Tunga produced installation work involving objects, film, and video, as in the 1980 Dois irmões (“Two Brothers”) project and in his collaboration with Arthur Omar, O nervo de prata (“The Silver Needle”). Tunga’s multidisciplinary work encompassed various fields of knowledge, from paleontology and zoology to psychology and physics. Inspired by the Constructivist and Surrealist traditions, and by the ideas laid out in Oswald de Andrade’s Anthropofagite manifesto, Tunga parodied the scientific methods of these disciplines to subvert Cartesian logic and notions of reason. His highly symbolic pieces used a repertoire of motifs (bones, molars, hair, hammocks, skulls, nets, tubes, lamps) and materials (such as iron, wire, and glass) that he recycled throughout his career. For example, huge plates of steel and magnets merged with what appear to be long, thick plaits of hair. This hair, often real, was attached to the heads of living people or, as in the ...


Vigo, Edgardo Antonio  

Adrian Locke

(b La Plata, 1927; d La Plata, 1997).

Argentine conceptualist artist. He studied at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes of the Universidad Nacional de la Plata before moving to Paris (1953–1954), where he befriended the Venezuelan artist Jesús Soto. Until the end of the 1950s Vigo’s work centered around heterodox objects, graduating to the construction of his máquinas inútiles (“useless objects”) by 1957. To this end Vigo has been seen as the precursor of visual poetry and concept art, especially with his Señalmientos (“Designations”). Vigo was active in the founding and publication of various art journals, including W.C. (which produced five editions); D.R.K.W. 60 (three editions); Diagonal cero in 1964 (twenty-eight editions); and Hexágono (thirteen editions). In 1967 he published Baroque Mathematical Poems in Paris. In 1969 Vigo organized the Exposición Internacional de Novísima Poesía/69 at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella of Buenos Aires, a multimedia show involving artists from around the world. In 1970...