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    [Letter] 1969 December 23, New York [to] Rachel Conkright / Catlin, Stanton L., Director C.I. R. Art Gallery
    [1] leaf
    Typed sheet – Letters
    Catlin, Stanton L., to Rachel Conkright, New York, December 23, 1969. Fundación Gego Archives, Caracas, Venezuela.
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This letter-report, dated December 23, 1969, was originally written in English by Stanton L. Catlin, an American curator and director of the Center for Inter-American Relations Art Gallery, New York, to Rachel Conkright, Gego’s gallerist in Caracas. The document contains five numbered points with information about the people who have seen and commented on Gego’s work, as well as the plan to hold a reception for special guests within the framework of the exhibition as the focal point, Latin American New Painting and Sculpture: Juan Downey, Agustín Fernández, Gego, Gabriel Morera. The aim of the reception was for guests to visit Gego’s Reticulárea (1969). The letter closes with Christmas greetings and Catlin’s signature.


With the support of her gallerist Rachel Conkright, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, 1912–1994) installed the 1969 version of the work Reticulárea in the exhibition, Latin American New Painting and Sculpture: Juan Downey, Agustín Fernández, Gego, Gabriel Morera, organized by the Center for Inter-American Relations, New York (now known as the Americas Society); the work was installed in November 1969 and remained on exhibition until January 1970.

According to this informational letter from Stanton Loomis Catlin, director of the center’s art gallery, to Conkright, Gego’s gallerist in Caracas, as well as other accounts, the exhibition did not receive a great deal of attention from the New York press. It did, however, incite admiration and interest on the part of collectors, academics, curators and directors of American museums. In the letter, Catlin mentions influential individuals who visited the work, such as Alfred H. Barr (1902–1981), art historian and the first director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in New York, and scientists like mathematician Wilhelm Magnus (1907–1990), who was a key figure in modern Western history due to his major contributions to combinatorial group theory, and to the study of tessellations and mosaics. Indeed, not only did these figures see Reticulárea, but they also took an interest in learning more about Gego and her work or in purchasing one of her works. Long before the 1969 version of Reticulárea was created, MoMA had acquired the sculpture Sphere (1959), by Gego, which Alfred H. Barr Jr. thought possessed the quality of “parallactic charm,” a statement that many years later, future critics, including Venezuelans Hanni Ossott and Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas, would analyze.  

This letter-report from Catlin shows Reticulárea’s impact as early as 1969 on the field of visual art, and also on architecture and the objective sciences, which considered it an object of study. In terms of architecture, the letter mentions that two architects from “SOM” had visited, undoubtedly in reference to the firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, famous for building skyscrapers—among them the tallest in the United States—and other major projects in cities around the world.

This letter (original in English, Spanish translation by Sabina Israeliatz in 2010) was among the documents selected for publication in the bilingual book, Desenredando la red. La Reticulárea de Gego. Una antología de respuestas críticas / Untangling the Web: Gego’s Reticulárea, An Anthology of Critical Response, organized by María Elena Huizi and Ester Crespin, currently in the process of being published by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Fundación Gego, Caracas. 

María Elena Huizi
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Stanton L. Catlin, 1969
Fundación Gego Archives, Caracas, Venezuela