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In this article featured in the book Gego: Obra Completa, 1955–1990 (Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 2003), Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor challenges the notion that German-born Venezuelan artist Gego’s work can be categorized as “organic constructivism.” Amor grounds her position on a brief historical analysis of constructivism and some art movements from the postwar period; she looks to Gego’s Reticulárea (1969) to show that, while Gego’s work may have been influenced by constructivism early on, her art has challenged its “rationalist metaphor.” She draws connections between Gego’s work and the post-minimalist work of artist Eva Hesse and the neo-concrete work of artist Lygia Clark, arguing that the work of all three women constituted a critique of the techno-scientific morphology of Venezuelan kinetic art, of North American minimalism, and of Brazilian concretism, respectively. In Amor’s view, the work of these artists redefined sculpture through critical dialogue with those movements.
Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor has studied the Reticuláreas, a body of work by German-born Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, Hamburg, 1912–Caracas, 1994), extensively. She published this article in the book Gego: Obra Completa, 1955–1990 (Caracas: Museo de Bellas Artes, 2003), conceived by curator Iris Peruga on the occasion of the major retrospective of Gego’s work held at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas in 2001. Amor rests her argument in this text on a brief historical analysis of the constructivist legacy during the postwar period. Her analysis of Gego’s Reticulárea (1969) challenges canonical interpretations that see Gego’s work as “organic constructivism.” Amor explains that Gego’s work is usually related to constructivism because, in it, the line, space, and geometry are envisioned as visual elements. Amor concedes that Gego’s work is based on a certain strain of constructivism, mainly the strain that included irrationality and imagination (the examples of that constructivism cited in the text include Malevich’s pursuit of endless space and of boundless being, El Lissitzky’s Proun Room, and Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau). Amor argues that, with her Reticulárea, Gego challenged the objectivist, rationalist, and functional outgrowths of constructivism and the “fetishization” of technology by Venezuelan geometric abstraction and kinetic art. Amor claims that Gego’s work was a reaction against the work of her kinetic colleagues, who monumentalized, domesticated, and automated certain constructivist strategies such as participation based on perception and the use of the series and of industrial materials.
First exhibited at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas in 1969, the Reticulárea is an environmental work built with metal mesh and stainless steel nets in triangular modules of varying scale, size, and density that hang from the ceiling of a white room. Amor explains that the origin of this work lies in Gego’s interest in space and in the line—concerns she had begun to explore in the fifties with sculptures and drawings. For Amor, the Reticulárea eschews mass and volume to “take to the limit the disintegration of the object in space.” In the Reticulárea, irregularity is the norm; the irregular effect of the nets is accentuated by the decomposition of two dimensionality. The work is variable and appears capable of growing boundlessly. It is performative insofar as an open and unpredictable structure that varies with the viewer’s action. For those reasons, Amor concludes, the Reticulárea enacts a radical rupture with conventional sculptural space, which is why it is akin to works produced by two other women artists in 1969, specifically Lygia Clark’s Estruturas Vivas and Eva Hess’s Right After.
Amor has analyzed Gego’s work in depth, particularly her Reticuláreas [in addition to this text, see on that work in the ICAA digital archive “Another Geometry: Gego’s Reticulárea, 1969–1982,” (2005) (doc. no. 1149547)]. In “Gego: desafiando estructuras = Defying Structures” (1995–96) (doc. no. 1156347), Amor criticizes the constructivist and organicist vision that has been used to classify Gego’s work. In “Gego: Exploding the Field” (2007) (doc. no. 1281456), she provides both a brief overview of the state of historiography and a critical assessment of the two most important publications on Gego’s work. “Gego: para entrar al espacio” (doc. no. 1149443) is an early assessment of Gego’s art written by Venezuelan art critic Roberto Guevara (1932–98) in 1977.