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    The Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor reviews “The Experimental Exercise of Freedom: Lygia Clark, Gego, Mathias Goeritz, Hélio Oiticica, and Mira Schendel,” the exhibition installed at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles) [October 17, 1999 – January 23, 2000]. According to Amor, the assembled works of art do not adequately support the exhibition’s main argument.  

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    The Venezuelan curator, professor, and art critic Mónica Amor reviews “The Experimental Exercise of Freedom: Lygia Clark, Gego, Mathias Goeritz, Hélio Oiticica, and Mira Schendel,” the exhibition installed at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles) [October 17, 1999 – January 23, 2000]. Amor argues that the exhibit misses an excellent opportunity to refute clichés about Latin American modern art. According to Amor, the main problem with this exhibition is that the assembled works of art do not support its main proposition: that the South American avant-garde maintained an intimate dialogue with the constructivist legacy and, through their creative work, reconstituted their own subjectivity and reconnected art with life. Amor points out that, in fact, Gego, Clark, and Oiticica were the only ones to have continued to work in a constructivist mold and that, by not showing their early works, the exhibition fails to highlight those connections. Amor says that, despite the commendable effort to assemble critical works, the curatorial decision to show each artist’s work separately does not contribute to the exhibition’s main thesis, since it does not provide any means to discern the connections that may exist between the works produced by the above-mentioned artists. 

     

    Mónica Amor is an art critic, curator, and professor of modern and contemporary art at Maryland Institute College of Art. She studies contemporary art that enjoys a certain architectural influence, in particular the reticuláreas by Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt, b. Hamburg, 1912; d. Caracas, 1994). Amor critiques conventional methodological approaches and advocates for an expansion of the canon and greater flexibility in the analysis of contemporary Latin American art in her articles “On the Contingency of Modernity and the Persistence of Canons” (2008) [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no.  1281140)] and “Entre espacios: la Reticulárea y su lugar en la historia” (2003), in which she connects the dots between works by Gego, Eva Hesse, and Lygia Clark (doc. no. 1281456). In her essay “Imaginando territorios: reflexiones dispersas sobre arte en (Latino) América = Imagining Territories: Scattered Reflections on Art in (Latin) America” (1996) (doc. no. 1155284) Amor reflects on the profoundly different ideas coming from the discourse of nationalist power and rhetoric, such as “origin and essence,” which twist the meanings and contributions of Latin American art. Amor claims that the essays written by the Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar (José Ribamar Ferreira, b. São Luís, Maranhão, 1930; d. Rio de Janeiro, 2016) had a powerful impact on the development of the Brazilian avant-garde and on the artistic dialogue that Lygia Clark (b. Belo Horizonte, 1920; d. Rio de Janeiro, 1988) and her colleague Hélio Oiticica (b. Rio de Janeiro, 1937; d. Rio de Janeiro, 1980) maintained from 1959 through 1964, as she explains in her article “From Work to Frame, In-between, and Beyond: Lygia Clark’s and Hélio Oiticica’s work 1959–1964” (2010) (doc. no. 1281344).