THE RISE OF LATIN AMERICAN ART – BEYOND CLICHES
“People usually associate Latin American art with its socialist-realist agenda, but more and more people are paying attention to other movements that arose during the mid-20th century, including Geometric Abstraction,” says Dana Bramham, Latin American Art Specialist at Christie’s. She points to Carmen Herrera, the Havana-born, New York-based artist known for her formal simplicity. “She worked all the way from the 1950’s and up, but she’s only getting noticed now.”
Another example if Franco-Venezualan Cruz-Diez, touted as the founder of kinetic and op art. For his Physichromie (1959) series, vertical coloured bands are arranged according to strict mathematical principal, resulting in an optical illusion, so that the image shifts as the position of the viewer changes.
“If you look at a Diego Rivera mural that references a specific moment in time, be it in Mexico or the states, you are going to lose something if you are not aware of that historical background. But there were plenty of artists who weren’t looking into tying their works to a specific history. Cruz-Diez is a good example, as his work is about activiating the viewer. It’s something universal.”
Alvarez-Nichol, who mounted a well received solo show of the artist at Art Basel 2017, adds, “Even though the artist started producin in the 50’s, it is really the experience of the works, which only exist in the present, that is the most important aspect of the work. In a way, this interactive aspect has a lot to do with what the youths are facing today. No longer content to be on the receiving end, they want to be relevant. The ideas that gave birth to kinetic and optical art are still very much relevant today.”
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