Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

Rafael Alberti, the poet, mentions León Ferrari’s Vietnam War pieces, and savors the irony of a possible exhibition of those political works at the Torcuato Di Tella Institute. He tells Ferrari how an artist should react, at a political level, vis-à-vis the United States. Alberti sketches an amusing account of Ferrari’s workshop, and makes a few remarks about the artistic and literary milieu.

In an aside to Alicia, Ferrari’s wife, Rafael Alberti predicts that her husband’s work will shake things up in Buenos Aires. 

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León Ferrari was born in Buenos Aires in 1920, the son of Augusto Cesare Ferrari, the Italian artist and architect. The younger Ferrari was a latecomer to the plastic arts, a status which allowed him to function as a link between the generation of artists from the late fifties and the young avant-garde of the sixties. His early works were ceramic sculptures, but in later years he experimented with wire structures, with a visual form of writing, and with collages. There are two distinct themes running through his work: one is a strong condemnation of military dictatorships, American imperialism, and the ideology of the Catholic Church. The other has a more formalistic quality, expressed in a conceptual style and, at times, in the surrealist tradition. His 1965 object-montage, titled Civilización Occidental y Cristiana [Western Christian Civilization], was censured at the Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [the Torcuato Di Tella Institute’s Visual Arts Center]. It depicts a Christ mounted on a US Air Force bomber that is plunging Earthward. Ferrari was involved in the political conceptualism movement of the seventies (particularly Tucumán Arde, in 1968).In response to the most recent Argentine military dictatorship’s repressive regime (1975-83), he went into exile in Brazil, where he explored a variety of ideas, such as formalism and the reproducibility of a work, as well as the spatial relationship between sculpture and music. In 1984 his work was once again exhibited in Buenos Aires, where he finally returned and settled. Correspondence between the Argentine artist León Ferrari and the Spanish writer Rafael Alberti (Cádiz, 1902-1999). Alberti lived in Buenos Aires during most of his time in exile, until 1963 when he settled in Rome. These two once worked together on a joint project: Rafael Alberti, Escrito en el aire: 9 poemas inéditos de Rafael Alberti para 9 dibujos de León Ferrari [Rafael Alberti, “Written in the Air”: 9 unpublished poems by Rafael Alberti to accompany 9 drawings by León Ferrari](Milán: All´insegna del pesce d’oro, 1964).

Researcher
Roberto Amigo
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo personal León Ferrari, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.