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 MUSEUM OF MODERN ART ANNOUNCES THE FIRST MAJOR U.S. MUSEUM RETROSPECTIVE EXPLORING THE WORK OF LYGIA CLARK

The Museum of Modern Art announces a major retrospective devoted to the art of Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988), the first comprehensive exhibition in North America of her work, from May 10 through August 24, 2014Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988 comprises nearly 300 works, ranging from the early 1950s to the early 1980s, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, and participatory works.

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). Planes in Modulated Surface 4. 1957. Formica and industrial paint on wood. 39 1/4 x 39 1/4″ (99.7 x 99.7 cm).  The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Kathy Fuld  © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © Thomas Griesel

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). Planes in Modulated Surface 4. 1957. Formica and industrial paint on wood. 39 1/4 x 39 1/4″ (99.7 x 99.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Kathy Fuld © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © Thomas Griesel

 

Drawn from public and private collections, including MoMA’s own, this survey is organized around three key themes: abstraction, Neo-Concretism, and the “abandonment” of art. Each of these axes anchors a significant concept or a constellation of works that mark a definitive step in Clark’s career. While Clark’s legacy in Brazil is profound, this exhibition draws international attention to her work. By bringing together all parts of her radical production, the exhibition seeks to reinscribe her into current discourses of abstraction, participation, and a therapeutic art practice.

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). The Inside Is the Outside. 1963. Stainless steel. 16 x 17 1/2 x 14 3/4″ (40.6 x 44.5 x 37.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin. © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © Thomas Griesel

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). The Inside Is the Outside. 1963. Stainless steel. 16 x 17 1/2 x 14 3/4″ (40.6 x 44.5 x 37.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund in honor of Adriana Cisneros de Griffin. © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © Thomas Griesel

From her earliest production, Clark’s work was in dialogue with landmark predecessors of modern geometric abstraction, including Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Vladimir Tatlin, Max Bill, and Georges Vantongerloo. This first group of Clark’s paintings and graphic works (1948– 59) underscores the breaking of the flat surface and points towards athree-dimensional mode of abstraction. The first section of the exhibition deals with Clark’s discovery of what she called the “organic line,” an opening of conceptual—and eventuallyactual—space within the surface of her work that led her from early abstract compositions(1952–53) to the series of multilayered, painting-like compositions known as Superfícies moduladas (Modulated Surfaces), Planos em superfícies moduladas (Planes in Modulated Surfaces) and Espaços modulados (Modulated Spaces) (1956–58).

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). Óculos. 1968. Industrial rubber, metal, glass. 11 7/16 x 7 1/16 x 2 15/16″ (29 x 18 x 7.5 cm). © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © 2014 Eduardo Clark

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920–1988). Óculos. 1968. Industrial rubber, metal, glass. 11 7/16 x 7 1/16 x 2 15/16″ (29 x 18 x 7.5 cm). © Courtesy of World of Lygia Clark Cultural Association. Photo: © 2014 Eduardo Clark

The period embraced by the Neo-Concrete moment (1959–66) includes most of the final “formal” works done by Clark when she was identified as a Neo-Constructivist artist. For Clark, Neo-Concretism initiated an investigation that led her to a practice beyond the limits of conventional artistic forms. The conception of the elasticity of space materializes later in her repertoire of sculptural forms. The selection of works in this second section comprises her series Bichos (Critters/Animals) (1960–63), Abrigos poéticos (Poetic Shelters) (1964), and Trepantes (Grubs) (1965). Two key works from the Trepantes seriesO Dentro é o fora (The Inside Is the Outside) (1963) and O Antes é o depois (The Before Is the After)(1963)—and her first quasi- performative work, Caminhando (Walking) (1963), are featured.

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988). Sundial, 1960. Aluminum with gold patina. Dimensions variable, approximately 20 7/8 x 23 x 18 1/8” (52.8 x 58.4 x 45.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Rafael Romero. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro

Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988). Sundial, 1960. Aluminum with gold patina. Dimensions variable, approximately 20 7/8 x 23 x 18 1/8” (52.8 x 58.4 x 45.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros in honor of Rafael Romero. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro

Between 1966 and 1988, a period that coincided with a personal crisis and subsequent long period of exile in Europe, Clark achieved a radical conclusion to the concepts and practices that she had confronted during the 1960s. During this period she delved into new forms of collective action and therapeutic practice with the help of her objects and creations, which would prepare the body for the analysis of the mind. Clark did produce some objects during this period for artistic contexts and for events that were framed within the “art world,” including her landmark installation A Casa é o corpo (The House is the Body)created for the Venice Biennale in 1968. Continue reading