The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
This is an essay on Gego’s artwork published to accompany the exhibition, Desafiando Estructuras [Challenging Structures] (MACBA, Barcelona/Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal, 2006) by Iris Peruga. It starts out with biographical information on the artist, her training as an architect/engineer in her native Germany, her work as a docent in Venezuela, and the periods when she lived outside of Caracas. Starting from there, the curator explains the importance of Gego within the history of modern art in Venezuela and Latin America. She was different in that [her work] represented a type of modern art that broke away from dependency and used approaches that departed from those of Europe and the United States. In this regard, Peruga cites the thesis of the Venezuelan critic, Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas, who saw Gego’s artwork as “deconstructing” the reticular structures of modern art. Along with some other artists on the margins of modern Kinetic art, geometric abstraction, and Constructivist art, Gego’s focus was on the antiheroic and negligible. The curator establishes three phases into which she groups Gego’s work, based on the treatment of line, which is a basic element in her work. One: parallel lines (1957–71), drawing on and sculpture in rigid materials. Two (1969–76): systems of nets or meshes based on the triangle or square, mainly represented in the Reticulárea (1969), and the next year beginning the series Chorros, Troncos, Esferas [Streams, Trunks, Spheres]. Three: (1976 through the end of her life in 1994) work with small pieces of wire called Dibujos sin papel [Paperless Drawings], and finally, Tejeduras [Weavings], in paper with warp and weft. Peruga points out the rhizomatic nature of the artist’s work, as one image among others that refers to precarious constructions called “ranchos” [shantytowns] in Venezuela. She also covers the work Gego has done that is integrated into urban architecture. The critic concludes that Gego was an artist who broke with the past and whose freedom was expressed in her use of resources: waste materials and imperfection.
In November 2000, the second major exhibition of the Venezuelan visual artist originally from Germany, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, 1912–1994) opened at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas. The title of the exhibition was Gego, 1955–1990, and the Venezuelan art historian, Iris Peruga (b. 1941), was the curator. The catalog featured the curator’s text entitled, “Gego. El prodigioso juego de crear” [Gego: The Prodigious Game of Creating], an exhaustive study on Gego’s work that was published for the first time. Subsequently, this essay was published, along with [essays by] other writers, in the book, Gego: Obra completa, 1955–1990 [Gego: Complete Work, 1955–1990] (Caracas: Fundación Cisneros, 2003). Both Peruga’s meticulous sorting of work into periods, and her analysis of each group of works (in the three phases outlined) have made this essay a resource for researchers who have written about the artist since this exhibition. In 2006, Peruga published this essay under the title “Gego, el juego de crear”—eliminating the adjective “prodigious” from the title of the earlier versions—in Desafiando Estructuras, which was held simultaneously at the MACBA in Barcelona and in the Museu Serralves, in Porto (both in 2006). Although this version of the text was condensed, revised, and corrected by the writer, it is still basically the same study, with no change in its overall approach.This remains the most complete existing inventory of the artist’s work, setting the starting date of the first phase (parallel lines) in 1957, the analysis begins with works executed by Gego between 1953 and 1955. That was a period when she lived in a place called Tarmas, a small mountain town in Venezuela’s central littoral. The works are landscapes in watercolor or tempera and pencil; figurative ink portraits; and parallel line drawings (1955). The article even covered the weavings, which were the final works Gego created before her death in 1994. Peruga goes into further depth in her 2006 text and in the chapter on Paperless Drawings, defined as “small mural pieces made of wire.” These works incorporate elements that are used in daily life; she goes on to classify them, providing a subtitle for each group: “First Paperless Drawings”; Paperless Drawings “as boxes or frames,” “as grilles or grids,” “as dividers”; and “Circular and Rhizomatic Paperless Drawings.” In each group, the curator points out the titles and dates of the most representative works. Fragments of this document are included in the texts selected for 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, María Elena Huizi and Ester Crespin (organizers)—to be published in 2013 by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Fundación Gego, Caracas.