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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 draughtsman and painter of bullfighting scenes. In 1958 he travelled 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 colour 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 S 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 colours on glossy card, for example Germán List Arzubide (1926; Mexico City, priv. col., see List Arzubide, p. 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 1981 exh. cat., 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

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 travelling 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 artefacts). He returned to abstract art in the 1960s, using colour as an independent means of expression. In ...

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 colour, first using discernible forms conveyed in a pointillist technique and then by juxtaposing lightly applied flat brushstrokes in diluted colours 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 colour. 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

Cruz Barceló Cedeño

(b Uracoa, Monagas, Oct 18, 1926).

Venezuelan painter and graphic designer. He studied painting at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in Caracas (1942–6). At the age of 21 he won the highest award for national painters and went to France. He was a member of the Venezuelan group in Paris, Los Disidentes, who opposed traditional Venezuelan landscape painting. At this time he produced works of an abstract–lyrical tendency, which he varied so that they approached geometric abstraction. In 1952 he returned to Caracas, where, between 1953 and 1955, he executed a series of murals for the university campus. In 1957, with the sculptor Carlos González Bogen (b 1920), he founded in Caracas the Cuatro Muros gallery, with the purpose of propagating abstract art in Venezuela. Manaure was also one of the pioneers of graphic design in Venezuela. In 1958–67 he returned to easel painting, with works whose lyrical figuration and subjective landscapes border on the oneiric. Subsequently his art began to show the influence of Constructivism (e.g. ...

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 ...

Article

Lisa Blackmore

(b Cali, Sept 2, 1955).

Colombian painter, sculptor, illustrator, and collage and installation artist. Roldán graduated in architecture from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá in 1979, then moved to Paris to study art history at the Ecole du Louvre and La Sorbonne and modern engraving at Stanley W. Hayter’s Atelier 17.

Defying the use of signature themes or motifs, Roldán draws on a broad pool of references, from mythology to art history and literature, to create works that reflect on the transitory nature of life cycles, engaging with intimate processes of the passage of time and everyday detritus in order to create rich palimpsests and repurposed objects. His early paintings, such as Reflections (1989, 1990, and 1991), embraced abstraction, amorphous forms, bold color, and strong lines, that suggest the influence of the American abstract painters whose work he encountered after moving to Milwaukee, USA, in 1981. Quotidian experiences and recycled materials are recurrently present in such works as the time-based ...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Dec 8, 1915).

Panamanian painter. He studied under Humberto Ivaldi in Panama and at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Cárcova in Buenos Aires, where he was first exposed to abstract art and international trends. During the 1940s and 1950s he experimented with academic, Cubist and Abstract Expressionist styles, before defining a semi-abstract approach emphasizing colour and light. He made numerous collages, such as Fish (1968; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.), in which he sometimes incorporated fragments of coloured glass, a reference to his earlier occupation as a maker of neon signs. In the 1970s the figurative references in Sinclair’s paintings were reduced to small, virginal faces among abstract shapes; some works, such as the small colour studies called Stains (e.g. Mancha, 1971; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.), are completely abstract. Another series, Movements of a River (e.g. 1981; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.), consists of simplified and monumental forms of luminous colour with soft, dark contours and a stained-glass quality that is typical of Sinclair’s lyrical abstraction. A smooth and glossy surface and bright, translucent colours contribute to a mystical and contemplative effect in keeping with Sinclair’s religious nature....

Article

W. Iain Mackay

revised by Veronica Sesana Grajales

(b Barranco, Lima, Jul 5, 1925; d Lima, Oct 9, 2017).

Peruvian painter and teacher. He was born to a Polish father and a Peruvian mother. He studied architecture before transferring in 1944 to the Escuela de Artes Plásticas at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, where he was taught by Adolf Winternitz (1906–1993), under whom he developed a vigorous and poetic abstract style. During this time he developed a style that combined international abstraction with Pre-Columbian themes. In 1947 he participated in his first solo exhibition at the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA) where he exhibited a total of twenty-six largely cubist works and established the magazine Las Moradas with poet Emilio Adolfo Westphalem (1911–2001). The following year he moved to Paris, where he met André Breton and fellow Latin American artists Jesús Rafael Soto and Alejandro Obregón and poet Octavio Paz (1914–1998), among others, and engaged in discussions about the rise of international modern movements in Latin America alongside the desire to maintain a specific cultural identity. By the mid-1950s he had gained global recognition through his inclusion in numerous exhibitions ranging from Latin America to the United States and Europe such as the Salon de Mai (Paris, 1951); ...

Article

Angel Kalenberg

revised by Maria-Laura Steverlynck

[Torres García Workshop]

Uruguayan group founded in Montevideo in 1943 by Joaquín Torres García. It was conceived by the artist as part of an exhaustive program of art education initiated by him on his return to Uruguay in 1934 after living in Europe for forty-three years. The Taller was a laboratory where students worked as equals with Torres-García in a collaborative enterprise. They were guided by their direct contact with their teacher, who directed them more in terms of ideas than of techniques. The program was instrumental in establishing abstract art and modernism in Uruguay. The school promoted Torres-García’s own ideals of Constructive Universalism—a form of abstraction that advocated for universal order through the use of common symbols and signs placed within a geometric grid. The group, which also organized mixed exhibitions and published its own official magazine, Removedor, until it disbanded in 1963, included among its members Torres García’s sons Augusto Torres (1913–1992) and Horacio Torres (1924–1976), along with Julio Alpuy (1919–2009), José Gurvich (1927–1974), Francisco Matto (1911–1995), ...

Article

Luis Enrique Tord

(b Trujillo, Jan 27, 1893; d May 13, 1981).

Peruvian painter. He travelled abroad while still very young, visiting Bolivia and Argentina and frequenting the group of artists led by Luis Quinquela Martín in Buenos Aires. On his return to Peru he held his first exhibitions in Arica in 1917 and in Trujillo in 1918. His work matured in France, Belgium, Germany and Italy, and he exhibited in Paris at the Salon d’Automne in 1928 and the Salon des Indépendants from 1927 to 1930. Together with other members of the group Los Independientes, led by Ricardo Grau, he brought Fauvism and abstract art to Peru in the late 1930s, opening the way to modernism, but his influence was considerably limited by the prevalence at that time of the movement concerned with indigenous subject-matter led by José Sabogal. Torre’s expressive strength, original personality and versatility led him to depict diverse subjects, including landscapes, gardens painted in an Impressionist style, portraits, still-lifes and vivid multicoloured compositions that he called ‘jungles’ because they suggested landscapes dense with plant life. His most important works are to be found in private collections in Lima....