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Cosmic Dialogues: Selections from the Latin American Art Collection

May 8

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5/8/2015 1:10 PM  RssIcon

This summer, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will highlight works from its renowned collection of Latin American art themed around visual explorations of space and light. Cosmic Dialogues: Selections from the Latin American Art Collection features nearly 50 significant drawings and sculptures made from the 1940s to the present day, including immersive light installations, rarely seen works on paper, and masterpieces of Kinetic art.

According to Mari Carmen Ramírez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Director of ICAA at the Museum, “this exhibition will showcase modern and contemporary artists’ concern with the cosmos as a driving theme of their proposals. We are thrilled to bring back an audience favorite: Gyula Kosice’s (b. 1924) immersive, single-room installation, La ciudad hidroespacial [The Hydrospatial City], an important piece that was last on view in 2009.”

The Hydrospatial City—Kosice’s utopian vision of space architecture—is a room-sized display of acrylic models, light boxes, and drawings. Begun in 1946 and completed in 1972, it Kosice’s most ambitious and longest-running project, epitomizing his pioneering use of innovative materials such as Plexiglas and illustrating his fundamental preoccupations with water, space, and the human condition nature. At a time when no one was paying attention to the physical depletion of the planet, Kosice’s Hydrospatial City was both a sounding alarm and a poetic manifesto for mankind’s survival in space.

At the ICAA’s digital archive, our readers have access to primary and critical documents that provide historical insight into the artist’s approach to this major work and his relationship to the influential Grupo Madí. In his article “Escultura Madí,” 1947, Kosice describes the varied forms Madí sculpture’s environments and mobile structures should take while suspended in space [ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 731995)]. Other texts by Kosice highlighting the inventive-based nature of Madí artworks and the etymology of the word that defines this significant group of artists are “Concepto de Creación é Invención Madí,”1948; “Madí o el arte esencial : en torno a la controversia sobre el arte no-figurativo,” 1951; and “Estilo y concepto universalista de Madí,” 1952 (doc. no. 731954, 742696, and 731968, respectively). Finally, Kosice’s article “Ortogonalismo y nuevas relaciones en la composición,” 1954, foreshadows Kosice’s proposal for the Hydrospatial City, realized in 1972 (doc. no. 732154).

Kosice’s defining work will be displayed in dialogue with a selection of light-based structures by other Argentinean artists active in the Kinetic art movement in Europe, including Marta Boto (1925–2004), Horacio García Rossi (1929–2012), Julio Le Parc (1928), and Gregorio Vardanega (1923–2007). Rejecting traditional painting and sculpture, these artists turned to light as the key medium for their production. Cosmic Dialogues also draws from the Museum’s extensive holdings of masterworks by Venezuelan artist and sculptor Gego (born Gertrude Goldschmidt) (1912–94). In the 1960s and 70s, Gego pioneered a structural method for conceptual form of explored “drawing” in space with a series of flexible hanging net sculptures made of stainless steel wire. Four of these iconic sculptures will be displayed, including the Museum’s own Reticulárea (1975), the largest of the artist’s iconic series. The selection also features along with prints and drawings of interwoven lines and webs from the Fundación Gego collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, many of which have never before been on view. The ICAA is pleased to remind our readers that our digital archive holds over 140 documents related to Gego’s Reticulárea. Of these, more than 60 documents have been translated to English for the groundbreaking book Untangling the Web: Gego's Reticulárea, an Anthology of Critical Response. The recovery of these documents was made possible thanks to the tireless work of María Elena Huizi, Esther Crespin, and the staff at Fundación Gego.

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