Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    In this manifesto, Argentinean artist and poet Gyula Kosice advocates the use of water as a sculptural and architectural material in art. After describing the physical properties of water, Kosice laments that before him, it was never used for aesthetic purposes, despite the fact that water offered immense artistic potential as a material. The artist describes how he explored this potential in his work, and also considers the future and tries to imagine the artistic and urban innovations that the use of water could offer.

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    This text is a manifesto by Gyula Kosice (born Fernando Fallik, 1924–2016), the Argentinean artist of Slovakian birth, published for the first time in 1959 in Art actuel international magazine (Lausanne, 1959). It was translated into Spanish for the catalogue, Premio Internacional de Escultura [International Prize in Sculpture] (Buenos Aires: Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, 1962) and reprinted in Kosice (Rafael Squirru: Buenos Aires, 1990). With this manifesto, Kosice argues for the use of water as a sculptural element. The utilization of this basic material, which is the beginning of all life and is omnipresent on the planet, also offers many possibilities for art, and reflects the artist’s continual quest for innovation. Kosice begins his text by declaring the need to look for unexplored potential in sculpture, to rethink sculpture in relation to material, space, and volume. Gyula Kosice had already shown his drive to renew the arts through the Madí arts movement which he founded in 1946 with Uruguayan artists Carmelo Arden Quin (1913–2010) and Rhod Rothfuss (1920–1969) and German artist Martin Blaszko (1920–2011), and through the Arte Madí Universal magazine (1947–54). In his text, the artist recognizes the innovations of the twentieth century within [the field of] sculpture by citing Constructivism, Bauhaus, and his own Madí group, but he also affirms his desire for more innovation through his sculptural work with water, and also by imagining the possibilities that water could offer as an architectural component in the future.

    Art in Latin America was experiencing a revolution in 1959: new questions were being asked, new artistic paths were being sought. Within the context of the birth of Kinetic Art in Latin America, the use of water—fluid, mobile, and without fixed form—in sculpture allowed for the introduction of movement to an immobile sculpture, which became another way to address the challenges of Kinetic Art. Water played an important role in Kosice’s work and is at the core of his masterpiece Ciudad Hidroeléctrica (1946–72), which he had already begun when he wrote this text; it is an urban utopia that he realized in a series of maquettes. Water was not the only innovative material Kosice used in his sculpture: he also worked with neon and methacrylate tubes.

    [For complementary reading on the Madí artistic movement, see these texts in the ICAA digital archive: by Gyula Kosice, “Se reconocerá por Arte Madí,” in Arte Madí Universal, 1947 (doc. no. 732008); “Exposición de cuadros abstractos 1948: el movimiento moderno de abstracción- invención–concreción” (doc. no. 1101635); by Gyula Kosice, Rhod Rothfuss, and Arden Quin, “By Madi Act (Nemsorism) We Mean...,” in Arte Madí Universal, 1948 (doc. no. 1297254); by Gyula Kosice, “Concepto de Creación é Invención Madí,” Arte Madí Universal, 1948 (doc. no. 731954); “Más que un Movimiento,” in Exposición Arte Madí, 1954 (doc. no. 743168)].