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Gyula Kosice: Imagining the Porvenir, Constructing for Life

Apr 21

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4/21/2016 1:37 PM  RssIcon

This month we celebrate the 92nd birthday of sculptor and poet Gyula Kosice [Ferdinand Falk] (b. Kosice, Slovakia, April 26, 1924), the leader of the Movimiento de Arte Madí, one of the revolutionary avant-garde movements that emerged in Buenos Aires in the mid-1940s – the others were the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI) and Perceptismo. Kosice co-founded Madí with the Uruguayan visual artists Rhod Rothfuss [Carlos María Rothfuss] (1920–69) and Carmelo Arden Quin [Carmelo Heriberto Alves] (1913–2010) in 1946. The Madí group sought to replace the dominant realisms of the Argentine arts scene with a kind of concrete art based on pure “invention.” Kosice spearheaded their most striking innovations: kinesis and viewer participation. We encourage you to take a look at his Röyi (1944). the first mobile sculpture in Latin America. Also in the mid-1940s Kosice became the first artist to use neon light and water, two mediums that he would soon combine with Plexiglas to create his extraordinary hydrokinetic works.

This week we highlight another aspect of Kosice’s work: his humanistic approach and unwavering commitment to better contemporary life through art. Early in his career Kosice became convinced that art had a social purpose – an idea present in a 1944 essay where he proclaimed: “man shall not end on earth.” He thought that all the arts were equally responsible for shaping the human environment: the “Madí Manifesto” (published in Arte Madí Universal in 1947) proposed that music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, and architecture come together to create a new aesthetic continuum – an idea most likely inspired by the Bauhaus. Kosice enthusiastically adopted the role of architect of the “porvenir”– that which is “almost here.” Concerned with the world’s unstoppable population growth and limited resources, he conceived in 1946 La Ciudad Hidroespacial (1946-72), a utopian project that proposed the construction of human habitats suspended in space and powered by the energy contained in water. In a span of 25 years the artist drew sketches and fabricated Plexiglas models of the city’s semispherical modules; he also wrote “memorias descriptivas” or poetic texts that described these habitats and created photomontages and three-dimensional multimedia panels that depicted these floating in space. Kosice considered this project feasible; yet instead of planning for specific conventional functions, he imagined spaces where people could reflect or experiment new sensations: his memorias specify places like the “Argentine platform for friendship and Gaucho behavior” or the “space for lost steps and absences that are recycled.” We invite you to browse the brochures for the first exhibition of Ciudad at the Galería Bonino in Buenos Aires in 1971 and the exhibition at the Buenos Aires Planetarium in 1979. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston holds the largest collection of Ciudad objects, which were featured in a recent immersive installation.

Kosice did not limit himself to creating visionary landscapes; he also left an indelible mark in cities. In the 1960s he started to conceive monumental art for public sites. We suggest taking a look at the catalogue for his first New York exhibition, which includes the design of a monumental hydraulic sculpture for a plaza in Buenos Aires (1962). Kosice’s vision of hydrokinetic public art materialized for the first time in 1965 with Hidromural Móvil for the Embassy Center in Buenos Aires (1965-66). After that he executed Faro de la Cultura for a plaza in La Plata, Argentina (1982), Hidroescultura for the Museum of Jerusalem (1974), Victoria for the Olympic Park of Seoul (1988), and an enlarged version of Röyi for an outdoor sculpture museum in Portofino, Italy (2009). At once visionary and real, imaginative and scientific, Kosice’s architectural-sculptural propositions demonstrate his enlightened search to merge contemporary art with life.

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