Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Para leer a Gego entre la línea = Reading Gego between the line / Mari Carmen Ramírez
    Questioning the line : Gego in context. -- Houston : The Museum of Fine Arts, 2003.
    p.17- 39 : ill.
    English; Spanish
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Ramírez, Mari Carmen. “Para leer a Gego entre la línea = Reading Gego Between the Line.” In Questioning the line: Gego in context, 17–39. No. 2 of International Center for the Arts of the Americas, edited by Mari Carmen Ramírez and Theresa Papanikolas. Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, 2003.

This essay was written by Mari Carmen Ramírez, director of the department of Latin American art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on Gego and presented (as a lecture) at the symposium, Questioning the Line: Gego in Context / Cuestionando la Línea. Gego en contexto, organized by the museum in 2002. The following year, it was compiled [with other essays on Gego] into a book with the same title (Houston: MFAH-ICAA No. 2, 2003). The author explains that her personal analysis of Gego’s work is based on the artist’s own ideas on the nature and function of art. She goes on to establish the fundamental characteristics of this work that make it worthy of reassessment. The reconsideration cannot be based on an interpretation bound by categories or nominalism, nor may it be limited by history. Thus, it will require a “methodological, in-depth reading” that sets the dominant canons aside. Ramírez believes that Gego’s work is a “notable example of inverting the canonical Eurocentric models” produced in Latin American art. She points out the main factors in Venezuela and abroad that became obstacles to placement of this artist in the broad context of both modern and Postmodern twentieth-century art. Finally, she comments on the contributions and perspectives of the other speakers at the symposium: Iris Peruga, Luis Enrique Pérez Oramas, Richard Shiff, and Guy Brett.


The Puerto Rican art researcher and curator, Mari Carmen Ramírez is the Wortham Curator and Director of the Latin American Art Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is undoubtedly one of the specialists most dedicated to the dissemination and study of the work of the Venezuelan artist originally from Germany, Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, 1912–1994). The symposium, Questioning the Line: Gego in Context / Cuestionando la Línea. Gego en contexto,was organized by the Texas museum in 2002, in connection with the exhibition organized by Ramírez that same year under the title, Cuestionando la línea: Gego. Una selección. 1955–90 (Questioning the Line: Gego, A Selection, 1955–90). As the writer acknowledges, the 2002 exhibition was based on the “monumental” Gego retrospective held at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, in 2001, curated by Iris Peruga. The lectures were compiled in a book with the same title, published by the ICAA (International Center for the Arts of the Americas), a division of the MFAH, in 2003. As a set, these lectures, all written from new perspectives by international art critics, form a landmark study of Gego’s artwork.

In Ramírez’s essay, we find three important elements. She starts out by briefly and clearly stating her position as Latin American art curator and critic, which is based on a focus on “the diachronic” more than on the synchronic. Second, she offers a sharp analysis of Gego’s artwork. She believes that existing categories of modern and contemporary art have fallen short when it comes to the demands of approaches such as Gego’s. Even more importantly, she emphasizes the situation of other artists like Gego. For such artists, we must start out with a full investigation into the various contexts that are constantly imposed on the cultural, artistic, and geographic aspects of the artist’s life. Ramírez’s analysis points out the “unfair set of factors” that have obscured a clear view of the place Gego occupies in modern and contemporary art. To begin with, since the 1950s, the narratives about modern art in Venezuela have been governed by one dominant discourse represented by the adherents of Kinetic art. In addition, the “intricacy” of artworks has made them more difficult to categorize. One additional factor is the emergence of “tensions,” such as the paradoxical way the “line” operates in a possible definition of a new “spatial” sense, which began to take shape in constructions. There is also the tension provoked by the relationship implied between the rigorous mathematical objectivity that drives Gego’s work and her playful, subjective imagination, which is constantly undermining the artist’s strictest, most rational solutions. Another important thesis in Ramírez’s essay is the reintroduction, via Gego, of “the shadow.” For a long time, the writer points out, shadows had been proscribed from the repertoire of abstract art. As the third and final element of her essay, Ramírez briefly summarizes the critical points of view and contributions of the other participants in the symposium.

Fragments of this essay, published in Spanish and English (translated into Spanish by Héctor Olea), are included among 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.  

María Elena Huizi
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Mari Carmen Ramírez © 2003 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston