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Article

Victor Manuel Muñoz Vega

(b Acapulco, Jan 5, 1948).

Mexican mixed-media and installation artist. He studied industrial design at the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, and continued with graduate studies at the School of Arts and Design in London. The artistic trajectory of Aguirre shows different stages characterized by the obsessive, post-conceptual search for new elements of the visual language. In the beginning his work was involved with documentary materials referring to national historical events in Mexico (1978–1987). Later on he was involved through successive phases with significant objects and images integrated in flawless ephemeral installations to articulate critical discourses of current social and environmental reality (1988–1998). In the subsequent twenty years he was dedicated to an analytical and critical work of written language in the media (1998–2017).

Attentive to the materials and the nature of objects as the center of acute semiotics, Aguirre constructed with impeccable treatment, synthetic visual sets full of physical and significant tensions. Metal, plastic, wood, organic materials, bones, photographs, ashes, tools, various objects, cables, presses, logs, machetes, and axes are recurrent elements in his language. With them he referred to relations of power and inequality, depredations and submission, violence and fears....

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...

Article

Francis Summers

revised by Martin R. Patrick

(b Antwerp, Aug 22, 1959).

Belgian-born interdisciplinary artist, active in Mexico. He studied architecture at the Institut d’Architecture de Tournai in Belgium (1978–83) and at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice (1983–6). Alÿs moved to Mexico in 1987 and his art practice initially concentrated on Mexico City as a laboratory of urban living, often documented in the form of evocative, conceptually layered photographs, sculptures, and videos. In the slide series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) (1992–2002), Alÿs photographed street vendors and workers as they passed by carting a wide variety of goods within a ten-block vicinity of his studio. For his project entitled The Liar, The Copy of the Liar (1997) Alÿs created small images of suited men inspired by the commercial sign painters of Mexico City, and subsequently commissioned from them larger versions in their own styles. In this process Alÿs deferred authorship into a semantic chain. Hovering between the banal and the surreal, these works have an uncanny theme, of individuals observed in situations that defy explanation....

Article

Daniel Montero

(b Mexico City, 1970).

Mexican installation artist, video artist, and performance artist. Amorales studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, after attending Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (1996–1997), both in Amsterdam. He worked with images and signs of different types that when modified, combined, and recoded produce new images and meanings in turn. Based on pre-existing information and images he found on the Internet, Amorales created a particular way of working, more closely resembling that of a design studio than a traditional artist’s atelier. In his workspace and with a team of assistants, he proposed different ways of understanding the forms in which signs circulate and are appropriated, inquiring into notions of authorship, communication, and artistic media. From 1998 Amorales collected images from the Internet and converterted them into black, white, and red vectors. This collection is now known as the Liquid Archive. With these images, he produced several artworks in which multiplicity, repetition, and juxtaposition are constant. For example, in the video ...

Article

Susanna Temkin

(b Barquisimeto, 1969).

Venezuelan photographer, filmmaker, and installation artist. He studied photography with Ricardo Armas (b 1952) from 1987 to 1988, and art history at the Universidad Central de Venezuela Caracas from 1987 to 1990. His art reveals the contradictions and fallacies of modernism, often explored through themes related to architecture and urban planning, as well as gender and identity. Much of Apostól’s work focused on his native Venezuela, and more particularly, on the city of Caracas and its citizens. However, the artist also produced works related to the cities of Bogotá, Los Angeles, and Madrid, where he was long based. Significantly, although his art conveys local particularities, it also bears wider implications about the legacy of modernism across the globe.

Much of Apóstol’s photographic practice involved the use of digital technology. By erasing, altering, or enhancing a photograph, he exposed the failures of modernism as embedded within Venezuelan architecture. Turning to the vernacular buildings of Caracas, his series ...

Article

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 ...

Article

J. Harwood

(b Havana, 1959).

Cuban painter and installation artist. He graduated from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas ‘San Alejandro’ in Havana in 1976, and in 1981 from the city’s Instituto Superior de Arte. Later in 1981 Bedia participated in the groundbreaking exhibition Volumen I, the aim of which was to create a more open, outward-looking art, free from official constraints. Liberalization of Cuban society allowed Bedia to visit many countries throughout Africa, Europe and the Americas, eventually returning to his country’s own Afro-Cuban culture and religion. Bedia’s early archaeological and ethnographical interests resulted in the creation and documentation of fictious finds and in the use of photographs of Amazonian Indians, such as those on amate (native bark) paper in the untitled work from the series Crónicas Americanas (1982, Havana, Mus. N. B.A.). This perspective gradually developed into anti-colonialist paintings, drawings and installations. Bedia’s initiation into the Afro-Cuban Palo de Monte religion in 1983...

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

(b Havana, 1968).

Cuban installation and performance artist, active also in the USA. In Havana Bruguera attended the Escuela de Artes Plasticas San Alejandro (1983–7) and completed her first degree at the Instituto Superior de Arte (1987–92). Bruguera is part of a generation of artists who emerged during Cuba’s ‘special period’ (1989–94), the period of extreme economic hardship brought about by the country’s sudden isolation from trade and aid following the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. In 1993 and 1994 she published two issues of an underground newspaper entitled Memoria de la postguerra (‘Memory of the Post-war Era’), containing texts by Cuban artists, both those still in Cuba and those in exile. The paper displayed an interest in the affective power of information as it is circulated and withheld, a common theme of her later work.

Bruguera’s use of performance from the mid-1990s onwards brought her work to wider critical attention. In an early piece, ...

Article

Irene V. Small

(Roberto Barbosa )

(b Recife, March 21, 1949).

Irene V. Small

Brazilian multimedia and correspondence artist, film maker, and poet.

His early work of the mid- to late 1960s consisted of drawing, painting, and printmaking as well as poetry influenced by the Brazilian Poesia Concreta and Poema Processo movements. In 1969, the year his drawing O Guerrilheiro was censored by military police, he began to explore experimental practices associated with happenings, conceptual strategies, and new technologies. Beginning in 1970, he teamed up with the artist Daniel Santiago (b 1939), who taught at the Escola de Belas Artes of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, to form ‘Equipe Bruscky–Santiago’. In collaborations that continued for another two decades, the pair realized witty, yet politically subversive actions ranging from environmental and urban interventions and performative events to propositions disseminated by way of telegrams, classified advertisements, and the mail. Bruscky developed independent works as well, often harnessing dark humour and linguistic puns to provoke and defamiliarize perceptions about art and institutionality. In ...

Article

Jorge Glusberg

(b Paraná, Entre Ríos, Dec 28, 1942).

Argentine painter, draughtsman and collagist. She studied at the Escuela Provincial de Artes Visuales in Paraná and at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes ‘Ernesto de la Cárcova’ in Buenos Aires. Taking the cue for her well-crafted works from Surrealism but concentrating her attention on fortuitous encounters in everyday life, she fluctuated between a meticulously detailed photographic realism and an artificial imagery of old porcelain dolls and turn-of-the-century postcards, posters and advertising handbills. Generally working in series, she combined the sinister and the humorous, sometimes in a single work, as in Sublime Portrait of my Mother (1978; see Glusberg, p. 455), a frontal view of a masked woman with a vacant and enigmatic smile. An early triptych, the Family of the Condemned (1974), is in the national collection in Buenos Aires (Mus. N. B.A.).

J. Glusberg: Del Pop-art a la Nueva Imagen (Buenos Aires, 1985), pp. 455–8...

Article

Isobel Whitelegg

(b La Vega, Mantanzas, 1959).

Cuban painter, photographer, installation and performance artist, active also in the USA. Campos-Pons studied at the Higher Institute of Art, Havana (1980–85). Initially a painter, her graduation show Acoplamientos (1985; Havana, HIA) was concerned with representations of the female body as a device for prohibition and control, and her early work focused on the role of women in society and their representation within the history of art. In 1988 she went to the USA as a visiting artist at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, and in 1991 she settled permanently in Boston. Using shaped canvases, her first works displayed an interest in the interrelationship between painting and three-dimensional media. While living in the USA she also expanded her interest in sculpture and installation to include elements of video and performance.

Living abroad also brought her relationship to Cuba into sharper relief; work produced in the early 1990s addressed her own displacement in relation to the enforced migration of her ancestors as slaves, and the way in which an imagined Africa is collectively created in contemporary Cuba by story-telling, the cultivation of traditional medicinal plants and the practice of the Afro-Caribbean Santería religion. Using performance and video as a form of self-portraiture, another aspect of her practice focuses on her attempt to build a coherent identity as an Afro-Cuban woman living in the USA. With the aim of achieving simultaneity between performance and its immediate capture in the production of an unalterable image, her self-portraits employ large-format colour Polaroid photography, as in the diptych ...

Article

Blanca Serrano Ortiz de Solórzano

Cuban artist collective founded in 1992 in Havana. Their work examines the concurrent semiotics of bricolage and their relationship to contemporary art, design, and architecture. The collective is composed of Marco Antonio Castillo Valdés (b 1971) and Dagoberto Rodríguez Sánchez (b 1969); Alexandre Jesús Arrechea Zambrano (b 1970) was part of the collective until 2003. The artists graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA), Havana, the Cuban national graduate school of arts, in 1994. At ISA they studied painting with Flavio Garciandía (b 1954), and participated in the art students group Desde Una Pragmática Pedagógica (From a Pragmatic Pedagogy) created by René Francisco Rodríguez (b 1960), which explored different avenues for the merging of art and life, and allowed the artists to take carpentry classes. The artists’ collective was given its name by their colleagues because of their engagement with manual trades and repurposing of objects....

Article

Robin Adèle Greeley

(b Mexico City, 1968).

Mexican sculptor, installation artist, and multimedia artist. A figure in the generation of Mexican artists that came to prominence in the 1990s, Cruzvillegas studied pedagogy at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1986–1990). Informally, he also studied caricature with Rafael “El Fisgón” Barajas (1985) and with Gabriel Orozco in the Taller de los viernes (“Friday workshop,” 1987–1991). In 2007 Cruzvillegas began developing the aesthetic platform of autoconstrucción (“self-building”). Rooted in the ad hoc building tactics prevalent in squatter settlements on the outskirts of megacities, his autoconstrucción works inventively repurpose found detritus to produce a materialist critique of object experience in the 21st-century’s global consumer economy.

Cruzvillegas’s early artistic ventures were informed by, among other factors, his participation in the Taller de los Viernes; his engagement with the underground music, political caricature, and comic book scenes; and his encounters with artists and curators committed to opening Mexico’s then relatively insular art world to international ideas. At the informal Taller de los viernes run by Orozco, Cruzvillegas explored artists and ideas not readily available in Mexico at the time, assimilating everything from Robert Filliou’s ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Jesús Fuenmayor

(b Caracas, May 25, 1949).

Venezuelan painter, draftsman, multimedia artist, and installation artist. He studied at the Escuela de Artes Cristóbal Rojas, Caracas, from 1967 to 1968. Between 1971 and 1973 Fuenmayor exhibited in Caracas at the Galería Estudio Actual, Galería Banap, and Sala Mendoza as part of a loosely affiliated generation of artists that explored and questioned the theoretical and political consequences of abstraction modernist formalism. After a series of experiments with monochrome paintings, Fuenmayor was invited to present his first solo exhibition at Sala Mendoza in 1973. The single work he presented consisted in painting the walls of the gallery with a yellow industrial paint, which was widely in use at the time in house interiors. He used the paint’s name to title both exhibition and installation: Amarillo sol KY7V68 (Sunshine Yellow KY7V68), and also placed labels with the color’s name on the walls. In so doing, Fuenmayor intended to transform the aesthetic nature of the art space into one of reflection and mediation for the viewer....

Article

Deborah Cullen

(b Mexico City, 1955).

Mexican–American performance and installation artist and writer. Guillermo Gómez-Peña studied linguistics and Latin American literature at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (1974–8) in Mexico City. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and received both his BA (1981) and his MA (1983) from the California Institute of the Arts. A performance artist, writer, activist and educator, Gómez-Peña’s work addresses the north–south border and US–Mexican interactions. He pioneered performance art, experimental radio, video and installation art.

Gómez-Peña relocated to San Diego in the early 1980s, where he co-founded the performative collaborative Poyesis Genética in 1981 with Sara-Jo Berman. In 1984 he was a founding member of the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo (BAW/TAF), originally based at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Balboa Park, where he collaborated until 1990.

Gómez-Peña became known for his densely written texts, often expressed through newspaper, radio or experimental publications, including the early border journal ...

Article

Hersúa  

Daniel Garza-Usabiaga

[Hernández Suárez, Manuel]

(b Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, 1940).

Mexican sculptor and installation artist. He studied art at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City. In 1967 he launched, along with his fellow students Sebastian, Luis Aguilar Ponce, and Eduardo Garduño, the artists’ collective Arte Otro, which held its first exhibition in 1969 in the Academia. The work of this group, including Hersúa’s, was distinguished by perceptual and kinetic solutions produced by cheap, everyday objects, like cartoon tubes, plastic straws, and golden or silver papers and adhesives. The issue of the spectator’s participation was paramount to Arte Otro: they wanted to emphasize this condition in their work as a continuation of the forms of civil participation and organization that took place in Mexico City between 1967 and 1968 and that ended, tragically, with the state’s massacre of students and civilians in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlateloco on October 2, 1968. With this first exhibition, Arte Otro also published their founding manifesto in which they declared their practices as a “subversive alternative,” particularly toward the “established plastic values within the Mexican state and context.” With their perceptual and kinetic interests, indebted to Frank Popper’s ideas, Hersúa’s collective truly represented an alternative within a cultural context dominated by the postwar cultural and ideological debates centered in an antagonism between realism and abstraction....

Article

Sarah Urist Green

revised by Julia Detchon

(b Santiago, Chile, Feb 5, 1956).

Chilean architect, public interventionist, installation artist, photographer, and filmmaker, active in the USA. He first studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, then filmmaking at the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano de Cultura, Santiago, concluding in 1981. Throughout his career, Jaar’s works have taken many forms in order to address global themes of injustice and illuminate structures of power. In over fifty projects he termed “public interventions,” Jaar conducted extensive research around the world to create site-specific works that reflect political and social realities near and far from his sites of exhibition. He created works—in gallery spaces and in public, often engaging spectator involvement—that present images critically and confront the social and political interests they serve.

Jaar’s first public intervention was Studies on Happiness (1979–1981), a three-year series of performances and exhibitions in which he asked the question, “Are you happy?” of people in the streets of Santiago. Inspired by ...

Article

Courtney Gerber

(b Greenville, MI, Aug 6, 1945).

American painter and installation artist. She studied first at the Memphis Academy of Art (1965), then at the University of the Americas, Mexico City (1966–7) and finally at the St Martin’s School of Art, London (1968–9). She had her first solo exhibition in 1977 at the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York. Jaudon completed numerous permanent public art commissions and her paintings are represented in collections throughout the USA and Europe. In the 1970s Jaudon was linked most closely to the pattern and decoration movement (P&D). Her participation in this movement demonstrated her engagement with issues that were also understood as being at the core of the contemporaneous feminist art movement: disrupting the modernist definition of fine art as non-decorative, strictly formal, and, generally, produced by white men from Western cultures. In the painting Bellefontaine (1976; see 1996 exh. cat., p. 52), Jaudon fused modernism’s geometric abstraction with the interlacing curves and angles found in Islamic or Celtic ornamentation from the Middle Ages. She consciously takes care that the Western idiom of abstract painting does not overpower the non-Western decorative motifs, so that they coexist in a cross-cultural, non-hierarchical collaboration....