Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

León Ferrari writes poetically about art and religion in terms of his own artistic goals: the appropriation of the works of the old Masters, a repression of sexuality, and eroticism that is ignored by the Catholic Church. 

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León Ferrari (1920–2013) was born in Buenos Aires, 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] (see documents 743800, 744085, and 761879). 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 (see documents 743960, 744392, and 743870, among others). In 1984 his work was once again exhibited in Buenos Aires, where he finally returned and settled. 
 
In this written presentation León Ferrari refers to his political collages that portrayed art as the minion of both political and sexual repression that has been imposed by the Catholic Church since ancient times. A collage series called Releitura da Bíblia [A Re-Reading of the Bible] and book of collages: León Ferrari, Parahereges [León Ferrari: For Heretics] (São Paulo: Editora Expressão, 1986). 

Researcher
Roberto Amigo
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit
Courtesy of the personal archives of Alicia and León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo personal León Ferrari.