Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

León Ferrari writes to Leopoldo Maler about sending a copy of his book, Palabras ajenas [Other People’s Words] and about a possible stage version to be produced in England. He refers to the increasing politicization of Argentine artists, and mentions both Homenaje a Latinoamérica [A Tribute to Latin America]—an exhibition in honor of Che Guevara at the SAAP, the Sociedad de Artistas Plásticos [Society of the Visual Artists]—and a group event at the Galería Vignes that was closed by the owner of the showroom because of its political nature


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 theCentro 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.  
Correspondence between two Argentine artists, León Ferrari and Leopoldo Maler (Buenos Aires, 1937) about the stage version of Palabras ajenas [Other People’s Words]. In1968, Maler was working as a radio announcer at the BBC in London. The production was presented at the Arts Laboratory in October 1968 under the name Listen Here Now. A New Concert for Four Voices and a Soft Drum, directed by Jim Haynes.  

León Ferrari, Palabras ajenas : conversaciones de Dios con algunos hombres y de algunos hombres con algunos hombres y con Dios [Other People’s Words: conversations between God and certain men, and between certain men and certain men and God] (Buenos Aires: Falbo editor, 1967). 

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the personal archives of Alicia and León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Archivo personal León Ferrari, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.