The Museum Of Modern Art Announces Sur Moderno: Journeys Of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps De Cisneros Gift

Major Exhibition at the Opening of New MoMA Will Display Over 100 Important Works by Latin American Artists

The Museum of Modern Art announces Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction―The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift, a major exhibition drawn primarily from the paintings, sculptures, and works on paper donated to the Museum by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros between 1997 and 2016.

Since its founding in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art has collected, exhibited, and studied the art of Latin America. Today, MoMA’s collection includes more than 5,000 works of modern and contemporary art by artists from Latin America distributed across its six curatorial departments, representing important figures in early modernism, Expressionism, Surrealism, abstraction, architecture, and Conceptual and contemporary art.

Alfredo Hlito (Argentine, 1923–1993). Ritmos cromáticos III (Chromatic Rhythms III), 1949. Oil on canvas, 39 3/8 × 39 3/8″ (100 × 100 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund

On view from October 21, 2019, through March 14, 2020, Sur moderno celebrates the arrival of the most important collection of abstract and concrete art from Latin America by dedicating an entire suite of galleries on the Museum’s third floor to the display of artists from Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). Contra relevo no. 1 (Counter Relief no. 1). 1958. Synthetic polymer paint on wood, 55 1/2 × 55 1/2 × 1 5/16″ (141 × 141 × 3.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Promised gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund. Courtesy of “The World of Lygia Clark” Cultural Association

The exhibition highlights the work of Lygia Clark, Gego, Raúl Lozza, Hélio Oiticica, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Rhod Rothfuss, among others, focusing on the concept of transformation: a radical reinvention of the art object and a renewal of the social environment through art and design. The exhibition is also anchored by a selection of archival materials that situate the works within their local contexts. Sur moderno is organized by Inés Katzenstein, Curator of Latin American Art and Director of the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America, The Museum of Modern Art, and consulting curator María Amalia García, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)–Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina, with Karen Grimson, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints, The Museum of Modern Art.

María Freire (Uruguayan, 1917–2015). Untitled. 1954. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 × 48 1/16″ (92 × 122 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Gabriel Pérez‑Barreiro

The exhibition is divided into two main sections based on the concept of transformation. The first section, “Artworks as Artifacts, Artworks as Manifestos,” presents a group of works that subverted the conventional formats of painting and sculpture. Cuts, folds, articulated objects, cut-out frames, and experiments that question the autonomy of the art object are some examples of these artists’ material explorations. One of the first works visitors encounter in the exhibition, Willys de Castro’s Active Object (1961), fuses the materiality of painting with the principles of free-standing sculpture, inviting the viewer to circle around a painted canvas. Another work in this section, Gyula Kosice’s Articulated Mobile Sculpture (1948), questions the grounds of traditional sculpture by combining strips of brass to create a movable structure that defies classification.

Hélio Oiticica (Brazilian, 1937–1980). Relevo neoconcreto (Neoconcrete Relief) 1960. Oil on wood, 37 7/8 × 51 1/4″ (96 × 130 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Gary Garrels. © Projeto Hélio Oiticica

The exhibition’s inclusion of Spatial Construction no. 12 (c. 1920) by Aleksandr Rodchenko highlights the influence of Russian Constructivism on South American art. Similarly, images of Piet Mondrian’s works were widely circulated and had a great impact on the development of abstraction in the region. His Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942–43), on view in the exhibition, inspired investigations of kineticism among artists such as Jesús Rafael Soto, whose Double Transparency (1956) is an attempt to transform the two-dimensionality of Mondrian’s painting into a three-dimensional experience.

Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927–2004). Untitled. 1956. Acrylic on wood, 13 3/4 × 13 3/4 × 3 1/8″ (35 × 35 × 8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Sharon Rockefeller. Courtesy of Projeto Lygia Pape

In the second section, “Modern as Abstract,” the language of abstraction is displayed as both a product of and a catalyst for the transformation of the artists’ surroundings. The geometrical principles of abstract painting carried over into the everyday, where artists and architects recognized one another as allies, leading to a shared operation and set of ideals. Here, María Freire’s Untitled (1954), for example, is displayed alongside archival materials and works from MoMA’s Architecture and Design collection, in an exploration of public sculptural projects and furniture design.

The final part of the exhibition is dedicated to the grid, one of modern art’s central motifs of experimentation. Gego’s Square Reticularea 71/6 (1971) and Hélio Oiticica’s Painting 9 (1959) are two examples of works in the exhibition that approached the transformation and expansion of the rational grid in different ways. Oiticica disrupted the strict geometric system with his rhythmically arranged rectangles, while Gego warps and deconstructs the reticular structure.

Over the last 25 years, the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros has donated more than 200 works by Latin American artists to The Museum of Modern Art. In addition to those generous donations, in 2016 the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros established the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America at MoMA. The Institute’s programming includes fellowships for scholars, curators and artists, and an extended research initiative that contributes to a series of public programs hosted by the Museum, as well as symposia in Latin America, and publications in digital and printed format.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, with contributions from such prominent scholars in the field as María Amalia García, Irene V. Small, and Mónica Amor. The volume also includes a conversation between Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry, and a dialogue between Inés Katzenstein, the Museum’s current curator of Latin American art, and Luis Pérez-Oramas, who, in addition to serving as MoMA’s Latin American art curator between 2003 and 2017, was one of the principal curators involved in the development of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.

SPONSORSHIP:

Generous funding for the exhibition is provided by Agnes Gund.

Additional support is provided by Adriana Cisneros de Griffin and Nicholas Griffin.

Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mimi and Peter Haas Fund, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, 3 Eva and Glenn Dubin, The Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Alice and Tom Tisch, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Anne Dias, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, The Keith Haring Foundation, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, and Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro.

Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, Karen and Gary Winnick, The Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Clarissa Alcock and Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Agnes Gund, and Oya and Bülent Eczacıbaşı.

The Whitney To Present Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, to be presented at The Whitney Museum of American Art from July 14 through October 1, 2017, is the first retrospective to survey the groundbreaking Brazilian artist’s entire career, including the formative years he spent in New York in the 1970s. One of the most influential Latin American artists of the post–World War II period, Oiticica (1937–80) was a tireless innovator, from his start with the Neo-Concrete movement to his groundbreaking environmental installations. Co-organized by the Whitney together with the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, the exhibition presents a wide array of his paintings, interactive sculptures, films, audiovisual works, writings, and environments.

Hélio Oiticica (b. 1937), PN1 Penetrable (PN1 Penetrável), 1960. César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro. © César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Hélio Oiticica (b. 1937), PN1 Penetrable (PN1 Penetrável), 1960. César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro. © César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Oiticica was one of the most daring artists to appear anywhere in the years following World War II,” said Elisabeth Sussman, co-curator of the exhibition. “In conceiving this show, it was particularly important to us to focus attention on Oiticica’s presence in New York City in the 1970s, a time when many international artists came to live and work here. The expansion of his ideas into film, photography, and writing has been fully explored, as never before, in the research for this exhibition, and the works, some displayed for the first time, identify Oiticica as a paradigmatic presence in the global expansion of art practice in that decade.

Co-curator Donna De Salvo commented: “Oiticica’s departure from traditional notions of the static art object and his transformation of the viewer into an active participant were part of a larger, international desire to integrate art and life. Though his reputation is due primarily to his earlier work in Brazil, Oiticica was drawn to the scene of artistic experimentation in New York, and the eight years he spent working in the United States had a huge impact on his thought and continued to shape his art after his return to Brazil. By calling attention to the distinct differences that he absorbed in each locale, we hope to further the notion of art history as one comprised of multiple stories, and emphasize the Whitney’s expansive definition of who belongs in a museum of American art. This openness to patterns of artistic migration and cross-cultural thinking has a long history at the Whitney, which we are delighted to extend with this important exhibition.”

During his brief but remarkable career, Oiticica seamlessly melded formal and social concerns in his art, seeking to be internationally relevant and, at the same time, specifically Brazilian. The exhibition begins with elegant, geometric works on paper (1955–58): formal investigations in painting and drawing. These dynamic compositions gave way to more radical works as Oiticica became increasingly interested in surpassing the limits of traditional painting. By 1959, his painterly-sculptural Spatial Reliefs and Nuclei broke free of the wall and morphed into three-dimensional investigations of color and form. The Nuclei, composed of panels suspended from the ceiling, created areas through which the viewer could walk.

Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Oiticica moved further toward the destabilization of the art form, making art that is intended for the viewer to manipulate, wear, and inhabit, including his Parangolés, wearable paintings inspired in part by samba schools in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and Penetrables, colorful structures for viewers to navigate. In addition to viewing works on display, visitors will be invited to engage interactively with some of the artist’s works.

As Oiticica became further interested in bringing his art into the everyday, he began to create total environments suffused with color, texture, and tactile materials which were increasingly immersive in nature and transformed the viewer from a spectator to an active participant. The exhibition will include a number of these large-scale installations, including Tropicália and Eden. “Tropicália,” a name subsequently borrowed by the musician Caetano Veloso for his anthem against Brazil’s dictatorship, became an important and powerful movement in all the arts. Continue reading