Embracing Modernity: Venezuelan Geometric Abstraction, The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami, FL

Mercedes Pardo, Un pequeno sobresalto, 1973

October 13, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Embracing Modernity: Venezuelan Geometric Abstraction presents a historical overview of the origins of Venezuela’s abstract movement focusing on its early developments dating from the late 1940’s, to the 1970’s. It includes works by artists who were responsible for the growth of the movement at the national and international level, particularly in Paris where many of them resided at the time.

The show, curated by Maria Carlota Perez and Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig, features a selection of works from private collections and Foundations which document an important period of Venezuela’s art history which was instrumental in the development of Modern Art in the Americas. Paintings, sculptures and installations illustrate the development of Venezuelan Geometric Abstraction and Kinetic Art, and introduce many artists who contributed to the movement in Venezuela, unknown to the American public.

The process of embracing modernity in Venezuela, which occurred long after modernist painting and sculptural styles were adopted in Europe and the United States, was a complex one. It included the participation of artists and intellectuals who believed in freeing themselves from tradition, developing new styles inspired by the European avant-garde, expanding their horizons by traveling abroad, and working against an environment reluctant to adopt new artistic trends.

During the 1950s and 1960s Venezuelan artists took different paths including Neo-Plasticism, Free Abstraction, and Kinetic Art. Otero, Soto, and Cruz-Diez’s participation in the Kinetic movement made them the most recognized Venezuelan figures locally and internationally. Other artists included Armando Barrios, Omar Carreño, Narciso Debourg, Carlos Gonzalez Bojen, Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt), Elsa Gramcko, Luis Guevara Moreno, Mateo Manaure, Alfredo Maraver, Pascual Navarro, Rubén Núñez, Mercedes Pardo, Rafael Pérez, Manuel Quintana Castillo, Francisco Salazar, Enrique Sardá, Víctor Valera, and Oswaldo Vigas.

The exhibition recognizes their role in the development of abstract art in Venezuela. It also acknowledges the contributions made by Miguel Arroyo, in the field of furniture design, and by Gerd Leufert and Nedo, in the development of modern graphic design. Finally, the curators present works by Eugenio Espinoza and Claudio Perna from 1970s, created as a response to geometric abstraction from a conceptual perspective.