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


Document first page thumbnail
Editorial Categories [?]

Rafael Alberti informs León Ferrari about a parcel mailed containing copies of their joint book Escrito en el aire [Written in the Air] and his book of poetry Abierto a todas horas [Open At All Time]. Alberti comments that, passing through Rome, he missed their evening get-togethers at León Ferrari’s house and studio at Castelar, in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. He stresses the friendship that brought them together during the Spanish poet’s time in exile in Argentina. Written on a flyer for X Sonetos romanos [Ten Roman Sonnets] with humorous drawings wishing him a happy 1965. 


León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 1920–2013), the son of artist and architect Augusto César Ferrari, began his career in the visual arts late in life. This fact allowed him to be a nexus between the late 1950s generation of artists and the vanguard youth of the 1960s. His first works were ceramic sculptures; later, León experiments with wire structures, visual writing, and collages. What stands out in his work is both a political commitment, strongly condemning the military dictatorships, American imperialism and the ideology of the Catholic Church, and also a more formalist trait grounded in conceptual drawing and 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). In the 1970s, Ferrari was an active participant in the experiences of political conceptualism (in particular in the event Tucumán Arde [Tucumán Is Burning], 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). Beginning in 1984, he exhibits once again in Buenos Aires, where he settles permanently. 


Correspondence maintained between the Argentinean artist León Ferrari and the Spanish writer Rafael Alberti (Cádiz, 1902-1999). Alberti lived the majority of his time in exile in Buenos Aires; beginning in 1963, he finally settled in Rome. 


Together they published: Rafael Alberti, Escrito en el aire: 9 poemas inéditos de Rafael Alberti para 9 dibujos de León Ferrari [Written in the Air: Nine Unpublished Poems by Rafael Alberti for Nine Drawings by León Ferrari] (Milano: All´insegna del pesce d’oro, 1964).


Letter written on a publicity flyer for Rafael Alberti, X Sonetos romanos [X Roman Sonnets] ((Buenos Aires: Galería Bonino, 1964).  


Contains humorous erotic drawings by Rafael Alberti. 

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Personal archive León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina.