ABSTRACTION–CREATION Post-War Geometric Abstract Art from Europe and South America
Josef Albers Carmelo Arden Quin Max Bill Arturo Bonfanti Antonio Calderara Sergio Camargo Lothar Charoux Lygia Clark
ABSTRACTION–CREATION Post-War Geometric Abstract Art from Europe and South America
Gianni Colombo Carlos Cruz-Diez Geraldo de Barros Hermelindo Fiaminghi Anthony Hill Judith Lauand
Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London 8 SEPTEMBER – 6 OCTOBER 2010
Matteo Lampertico Arte Antica e Moderna, Milano 26 OCTOBER – 18 DECEMBER 2010
Antonio Llorens Raúl Lozza Heinz Mack Kenneth Martin Mary Martin François Morellet Aurélie Nemours Hélio Oiticica Lygia Pape Bridget Riley Luis Sacilotto Mira Schendel Jesús Rafael Soto Klaus Staudt Victor Vasarely
Manifesto Invencionista, Arte Concreto Magazine No. 1, August 1946, Buenos Aires. ‘. . . painting should be constructed entirely from purely plastic elements, that is to say planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than itself and consequently the painting possesses no other significance than itself.’ Theo van Doesburg, Manifesto of Concrete Art, Art Concret Magazine, 1930. The title Abstraction-Creation refers to the European abstract art movement of the same name founded by Theo van Doesburg in Paris in 1931. This somewhat loose association of artists can be defined as adhering to abstraction derived from the simplification of form and mathematical rigour. The group increasingly looked towards geometric abstraction and concrete art. Although many of the artists in this exhibition moved away from Van Doesburg’s notion of geometric abstraction, they all championed a purely non-representational abstract art that was not derived from observed reality and began with the idea that abstract art is the search for the absolute and the struggle for pure meaning. This exhibition brings together works by early European modern masters such as Max Bill, Josef Albers and Victor Vasarely along with later proponents of Concretism in South America including Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and the lesser know figures, Judith Lauand, Lothar Charoux and Geraldo de Barros. This exhibition also displays early works by British Constructivist artists such as Anthony Hill and Kenneth and Mary Martin who further explored geometric abstract art through the use of mathematical theories and the juxtaposition of modular forms. Although geographically and historically disparate, all of these artists looked to abstraction with renewed fervour in the post-war era and saw it as a mode of expression that made a clean break away from the restraints of subjective representation. Many artists from South America made the conscious decision to favour Paris over New York as the centre of avant-garde art after World War II. Repressive governments in both Brazil and later Argentina, forced artists to exile to Europe. However, the production of journals expounding theories on geometry and new abstract movements such as Raúl Lozza’s Perceptismo
and the Argentine Arte Concreto-Invención Magazine, kept artistic creativity alive despite the difficult political situation. Both of these journals are on display in this exhibition. If artists from South America came to Concretism later than their European counterparts, they also interpreted European Concretism in subtle and different ways, often pushing its boundaries and playing with extending forms into three dimensional space. European artists explored links with South America also, in particular Max Bill, who exhibited at the Museu de Arte, São Paulo in 1950 and whose work was a major influence in Brazil. Other European artists followed Bill in their explorations of South America, including Victor Vasarely and François Morellet. As a result of his influence, Concrete Art was a major expression of avant-garde art both in South America and Europe. Like Europe, South America’s relationship with abstraction was not one single phenomenon. Countless manifestos and groups were formed and written about. This exhibition gives a taste of a number of these, including Grupo MADI, Asociación Arte ConcretoInvención, Art Frente and Arte Ruptura in South America and GRAV, Grupo T and the Concrete Art movement in Europe. Abstraction-Creation seeks to explore this dialogue between two cultures.
Arte Concreto Magazine No. 1, August 1946, Buenos Aires
‘The artistic age of representational fiction is coming to an end. Man is increasingly becoming insensitive to illusory images.’
Introduzione Abstraction-Creation Arte Astratta e Geometrica del Dopoguerra in Europa e Sud America ‘La funzione rappresentativa dell’arte è ormai arrivata ad un punto morto. L’uomo è sempre più insensibile alle immagini illusive.’ Manifesto Invencionista. Arte Concreto Magazine n. 1, Agosto 1946 Buenos Aires. ‘L’arte deve essere costruita esclusivamente da elementi plastici puri, e cioè piani e colori. Un elemento pittorico non ha altro significato che sé stesso e, di conseguenza, il dipinto non ha altro significato che sé stesso’ Theo van Doesburg, Manifesto dell’arte Concreta, Art Concrete Magazin, 1930 Il titolo Abstraction-Creation fa riferimento all’omonimo movimento artistico fondato da Theo van Doesburg a Parigi nel 1931. Gli artisti che ne facevano parte, pur differenti sotto molti punti di vista, erano accomunati da una analoga concezione artistica, imperniata sull’astrazione intesa come semplificazione della forma e rigore matematico. Benché molti si allontanassero in seguito dalla rigorosa definizione di Theo van Doesburg per imboccare un percorso del tutto autonomo, la concezione non rappresentativa dell’arte, del tutto slegata dalla realtà naturale, e l’astrazione intesa come ricerca dell’assoluto rimasero un patrimonio comune. La mostra riunisce opere di celebri maestri europei dell’arte moderna come Max Bill, Victor Vasarely, Josef Albers, e di esponenti del concretismo sud-americano di una generazione successiva come Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, insieme ad artisti meno noti come Judith Lauand, Lothar Charoux e Geraldo de Barros. Sono inoltre presenti opere precoci dei primi costruttivisti inglesi come Anthony Hill, Kenneth and Mary Martin che esplorarono a fondo le possibilità espressive dell’arte astratta basandosi sulle teorie matematiche e l’accostamento di forme geometriche pure. Non mancano infine artisti italiani come Lucio Fontana, Antonio Calderara, Mario Nigro, Piero Dorazio ed Enrico Castellani.
d’avanguardia. I governi repressivi in Brasile ed Argentina favoriscono il loro esilio. Nonostante la difficile situazione politica, le riviste che divulgano le teorie sull’arte geometrica e astratta come Perceptismo di Raul Lozza e il periodico argentino Arte Concreta-Invention, mantengono vivo il dibattito anche in patria .In mostra sono presenti anche copie di queste riviste. Se gli artisti sudamericani si avvicinano all’arte astratta più tardi dei loro colleghi europei, è anche vero che essi trovarono soluzioni differenti, ad esempio forzando i limiti del dipinto fino a estendere le forme nello spazio tridimensionale. Scopo di questa mostra è proprio mettere a confronto queste due differenti culture. D’altra parte non mancano legami diretti fra gli artisti europei e il Sud America. A cominciare da Max Bill, che espose al Museo di arte di San Paolo del Brasile e il cui lavoro ebbe notevole fortuna nel paese, altri artisti europei seguono le sue orme in Sud America, compresi Victor Vasarely e François Morellet. In seguito a questi contatti, l’arte concreta fu una delle più importanti espressioni dell’arte di avanguardia sia in Europa che in America Latina. In Sud America, come anche in Europa, l’arte astratta non fu un movimento unitario. Numerosi furono i raggruppamenti artistici e i manifesti programmatici. Questa mostra ne dà una pur sommaria panoramica, dal Grupo Madi all’Associacion Arte Concreto-Invenciòn, da Art Frente ad Arte Ruptura
Benché attivi in diversi epoche e in differenti ambiti geografici, tutti guardano all’astrazione con nuovo fervore nel secondo dopoguerra e vedono in essa un mezzo per rompere definitivamente con l’arte figurativa. Molti artisti sudamericani, nello stesso periodo, scelgono Parigi invece di New York come centro dell’arte
Carmelo Arden Quin
Circulo Verde, 1946 Oil on cardboard in wooden frame 42 × 34 cm Provenance Acquired from the artist Ruth Benzacar Gallery, Buenos Aires Van Eyck Gallery, Buenos Aires Arevalo Arte, Miami Exhibited Montevideo, Ateneo, 1a Exhibicion MADI Internacional, 1946 Madrid, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, La Escuela del Sur, El Taller Torres Garcia and its Legacy, June to August 1991 Travelled to: Austin, The Alfred M. Huntington Art Gallery, September 1991 to December 1991, Cat. No. 113 Monterrey, Museo de Monterrey, January 1992 to April 1992 New York, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, September 1992 to January 1993. Mexico D.F., Museo Rufino Tamayo, February 1993 to May 1993. Literature El Taller Torres Garcia, The School of the South and its Legacy, edited by Mary Carmen Ramirez. 1992, University of Texas Press, p293 Carmelo Arden Quin 1935-1958, Edited by L’image et la Parole, Paris 2008, p201, Image 44
‘[Arden Quin along with Rothfuss and Kosice] . . . coined the name “Madi”, which has several possible meanings but principally the Madis explored new forms of expression based on the ideas of movement, the broken frame and the desire to involve the viewer: Madi sculpture was to be “articulated movement” and Madi painting “articulated planes of colour strictly proportioned and combined.” In his public reading of the “Introduction to the Manifesto” in August 1946, Arden Quin stressed the concrete and fully independent nature of Madi creations: “We express nothing, we represent nothing, we symbolize nothing. We create the thing in its presence alone, as pure immanence. The thing is, in space and in time: IT IS.’ Laura Maggioni, Geometry Beyond Limits: Latin-American Contemporary Art from the Jean and Colette Chequi Collection, 2010 p.30
Geraldo de Barros
[Brazil, 1923 – 1998]
Pampulha, São Paulo, Brazil, [From the Series Fotoforma], 1949 Silver gelatin Edition 5 of 15 Print 2006 29 × 28 cm Provenance Luciana de Barros, Belgium Literature Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros, Cosac & Naify Editores, 2006
‘In certain aspects or elements of reality, and especially in details that are normally hidden, Geraldo sees fantastical and olympian abstract signs: lines that like to intertwine with others in an unpredictable and sometimes chance alchemy of combinations, and which invariably result in pleasing formal harmonies. Composition for Geraldo is a necessity; he orders it by choosing from the millions of linear segments he sees, by superimposing negative on negative, modulating the tones of his only colors; black and white, intensifying the ink, in his studio work that is so meticulous and pleasing. Geraldo’s masters are the painters who renounce the figure, from Kandinsky to Mondrian to Bill, and from those worlds of such vague and mysterious content, poor and renounced, yet at the same time so ambitious and infinite to the initiate, he achieves a pure language, still indistinct, but nevertheless an artist’s language. This is then directed at other initiates who for now search for analogous but indeterminable states of the soul in the compositions.’ ‘...Geraldo is now going to Europe, on one of these study grants that have been so fashionable over the centuries. In the past, one went to Rome, now the road has changed and he is off to Paris. To the hortus conclusus of his “fotoforma”, as a group of initiates calls this form of photographic expression, Geraldo will be able to add the latest discoveries made by the daring individuals who habitually gather in Paris.’ Pietro Maria Bardi, Published in the brochure for the Fotoformas exhibition, held at the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP) in 1950
[Argentina, 1911 – 2008]
Numero 278 (Perceptismo), 1950 Oil on wood Signed and dated and numbered ‘278’ verso 94 × 60 cm Provenance Acquired from the artist, Buenos Aires, 2007 Exhibited Buenos Aires, Teatro “La Mascara”, Perceptismo, 1950
‘As a result of the debates of the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención, Raúl Lozza found his own solution, a movement called Perceptismo . . . which he launched in 1948 after separating from the Asociación in 1947. Lozza’s theory takes the notions of objectivity and bi-dimensionality to their logical conclusions without reverting to European art practices. Perceptismo developed into a system where the objective elements of art – colour and form – are measured and balanced in order to cancel any effects of illusionism (recession).’
Perceptismo magazine, edited by Raúl Lozza, No. 1 October 1950
Gabriel Perez-Barreiro, Arte Concreto Invención Arte Madi 1944-1950, Edition Galerie Von Bartha, Basel, p.14
Geraldo de Barros
[Brazil, 1923 â€“ 1998]
Belo Horizonte, [From the Series Fotoforma], 1951 Silver gelatin Edition 12 of 15 Print 2006 28 Ă— 28.5 cm Provenance Luciana de Barros, Belgium Literatura Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros, Cosac & Naify Editores, 2006
[Brazil, 1937 – 1980]
Meta Esquema – 154, Projecto No 433, 1954 Oil on paper Titled verso 21 × 24 cm
[Uruguay, 1920 – 1995]
Composición No. 4, 1955 Oil on board Signed and dated verso, inscribed on label ‘Antonio Llorens Composición No. 4 Pintura – 0.43 x 0.67 6000 El autor Medanos 1955 – Montevideo’ 63 × 39 cm
[Brazil, 1920 – 2004]
Alternados Horizontal e Vertical, 1955/1978 Enamel on wood Signed and inscribed ‘Alternados Horizontal E Vertical 1955/1978 Tec. Esmalte Fosco s/modera Med 053 x 053’ verso 53 × 53 cm Provenance Private Collection, São Paulo
[Hungary, 1908 – 1997]
Wombi – 2, 1956 Oil on thin card on board Signed ‘Vasarely’ lower right 46 × 40 cm
[Brazil, 1927 – 2004]
Untitled, [From the Series Tecelares], 1958 Wood cut Signed and dated ‘Pape 58’ lower right 23 × 23 cm
‘Lygia Pape produced the series of woodblock prints titled Tecelares over the course of half a decade of monumental change in the Brazilian art world. She began the series in 1955 as a founding member of Group Frente, the Rio de Janeiro Concrete art group formed in 1954, and continued to produce the woodblock prints through the dissolution of that group in 1957 and the advent of the Neo-Concrete group in the spring of 1959. Pape’s early Tecelares were understood to be emblematic of Concrete art when they were exhibited in São Paulo and Rio at the Exposiçáo National de Arte Concreta [National Exhibition of Concrete Art] in 1956-1957. But in 1959, Pape chose several works in the series as her contribution to the first Neo-Concrete exhibition, and Ferreira Gullar used a work from this series as an illustration in the Neo-Concrete Manifesto of the same year. Thus the Tecelares are both Concrete and Neo-Concrete.’ ‘....Because of the way Pape handled her materials, her sleight of hand did not result in a high-octane moiré distortion. Though the artist used a ruled edge and a compass to create the lines that compose the work, slight variations in her mark making, and in the size of the lines, betray the fact that a hand rather than a machine made the forms. The delicate support made of rice paper also absorbs the ink and creates feathered, impresice edges. Moreover, the black ink surface is not uniform but instead delicately reveals the wood grain of its original source. Pape has written about the Tecelares, “The line is totally controlled. . . . The only thing that I allowed myself was to let the porousness of the wood emerge in the black like a small vibration.” Instead of a slick, hard edged work in sync with the ideas of the São Paulo Concrete artists, Pape, with her sensitive handling of her materials, imbued her work with the expressive, non-manifesto, characteristics also embedded in the time-consuming practice and handmade qualities that give the series its title.��� Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, The Geometry of Hope, Latin American Abstract Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, 2007, p.169
Untitled, 1959 Oil on canvas Signed and dated verso 33.2 × 23.7 cm
‘Lauand’s work, like that of many other Concrete artists, reveals the influence of Gestalt theory on the depiction of the illusion of movement in a painted image. The psychologist Rudolf Arnheim has written a great deal about the use of Gestalt theory in learning how people interpret images; his ideas also help in understanding Lauand’s work. According to Arnheim, the viewer knows that shapes in an image are not actually moving but appear to be striving in certain directions; he refers to this phenomenon as “directed tension.” Lines of force radiate outward from the center of geometric shapes; in the case of the square, which frequently forms the basis of a Concrete composition, the lines of force flow outward, both to the sides and to the corners. The Gestalt principle of grouping would cause the viewer to interpret arrangements of black bars...as single units, like the individual arms of a windmill, with each one appearing to twist and stretch toward the picture plane.’ Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, The Geometry of Hope, Latin American Abstract Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, 2007 p.154
[Switzerland, 1908 – 1994]
Rote Basis, 1959 Acrylic on canvas Signed and dated verso on canvas Signed, titled and dated verso on stretcher 34.7 × 34.7cm
‘In the early 1950s Bill developed important relationships with artists in Brazil. He had a 1950 exhibition at the recently founded Museu de Arte in São Paulo, he participated in the first Bienal de São Paulo in 1951 and won the international prize for sculpture, and he delivered a series of lectures on architecture and society in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in 1953, at the invitation of the Brazilian government. The Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo had sponsored the 1949 show Do Figurativismo ao Abstraccionismo as well as a series of lectures in the late 1940s that inspired many Brazilian artists to initiate experiments with abstraction. But it was Bill, along with the Brazilian critic Mario Pedrosa (author of important studies on art and Gestalt theory), who generated a widespread interest among young Brazilian artists in systematic geometric art.’ Lynn Zelevanksy, Beyond Geometry: Experiments in Form, 1940s-70s, The MIT Press, 2004, p.52
[Britain, b. 1930]
Relief Construction, 1962 Perspex, aluminium, anodised aluminium 53 × 61 × 14.7 cm Exhibited Paris, Galerie Denise René, 1962 London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Aspects of Modern British and Irish Art, 2001
‘My last paintings were orthogonal but simple in structure and concerned more with optical and physical problems – these soon conflicted with my interest in mathematical concepts and resolving this situation became another factor in moving out of painting altogether in 1956.’ ‘My present interests are in developing an autonomous art expression where the work will function and operate with light, space and movement. This ...can be seen as an open field...where the artist still works empirically although he will have moved into a new realm – the development and rationale of which becomes increasingly less dependent on personal expression and includes researching towards goals hitherto unprecedented while being the major development to come out of abstract art.’ Anthony Hill, Statement, ICA, London, February 1963
Displaced Parallels, 1962 Emulsion on board Signed and dated left hand side batten; signed, titled and dated verso 50.8 Ă— 114.3 cm Exhibited London, Juda Rowan Gallery London, New Art Centre London, Gallery One, Bridget Riley, April-May 1962 Nottingham, Nottingham University, Bridget Riley, 1963 London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Aspects of Modern British Art, 2007
[Italy, 1937 – 1993]
Strutturazione Fluida – Ottica, 1963 Plexiglass and metal foil Incised signature 21 × 15.5 × 15 cm
[Brazil, 1920 – 1988]
Caranguejo [From the Bichos Series], 1963 Multiple edition 1984 Aluminium Edition no. 484 of 1000 Dimensions variable
Accompanied by original box with pamphlet on the inspiration and origins of the Caranguejo series
‘For all the changes it went through, Clark’s work never quite lost the marks of its grounding in the “constructivist” movements in Brazil of the 1950s. These were born in a period of great artistic and intellectual excitement in the country. While Abstract Expressionism was emerging in New York, contemporaneously with l‘art informel, l’art brut and tachisme in Paris in the aftermath of the war, Brazil was being exposed to the pioneer generation of European abstract artists: Mondrian, Malevich, Klee, MoholyNagy, the Russian Constructivists, the Bauhaus artists and others, as well as younger “concrete” artists like Max Bill and Josef Albers. Their work was seen first-hand at the early São Paulo Biennials in the 1950s; Bill and Albers both lectured in Brazil during the same period. If on the one hand these influences represented the typical delay suffered by peripheral cultures in the arrival of ideas from the metropolitan art centers (though Le Corbusier was lecturing on architecture in Latin America, including Brazil, as early as 1929 and 1936), on the other hand they corresponded to the needs of a progressive middle class intent on developing Brazil...As Renaldo Brtio has written in his excellent study, the Brazilian constructivist movements represented the desire of a new intellectual generation to be “absolutely modern”. ‘...The “Bichos” are exactly poised between the cerebral schematism of geometry and the pulse of life and nature. They address the spectator on an active as well as a passive level. The spectator either picks up the object and plays with it or moves the hinged metal parts of the larger structures as they stand on the floor. Clark herself fought a constant battle for people to be able to continue to handle and play with the sculptures after they had passed into public and private collections. They were never intended to be merely looked at. Clark wrote, “The Animal has his own and well-defined cluster of movements which react to the promptings of the spectator. He is not made of isolated static forms which can be manipulated at random as in a game; no, his parts are functionally related to each other, as if he were a living organism, and the movements of these parts of are interlinked. The intertwining of the spectator’s action and the Animal’s immediate answer is what forms this new relationship, made possible precisely because the Animal moves – i.e. has a life of its own.’ Guy Brett, Lygia Clark: In Search of the Body, Art in America, July 1994
[Germany, 1888 – 1976]
Study for Homage to the Square: Respected, 1964 Oil on Masonite 81.3 × 81.3 cm Provenance The Estate of Josef Albers The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany, Connecticut (no. JAF 774) Pace Wildenstein, New York Private Collection, London Exhibited Washington D.C., Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Josef Albers: The American Years, Oct. 30 – Dec 31, 1965 Travelled to: New Orleans, Isaac Delagado Museum of Art, Jan. 23 – Feb. 27, 1966 San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, June 2 – June 26, 1966 Santa Barbara, Art Gallery, University of California, July – Sept 7, 1966 Massachusetts, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Sept. 23 – Oct. 29, 1966
‘It is understandable that what, in recent years, has attracted most attention to the work of Josef Albers has been his concern since 1949 with the paintings he called “Homage to the Square.”...They form the peak of form-color relationship and hence of form-color-space effect, and also (together with the “Structural Constellations”) of the principle of economy. But also, and not least, they are the results of a wise humanity and a creative mind. Over and over again the squares are designated as mediation pictures. And so they are, to a much greater degree than most other contemporary art.’ Eugen Gomringer, Josef Albers, George Wittenborn Inc., New York, N. Y. 2, pp. 137-138
Heinz Mack Untitled, 1964 Aluminium in perspex box Signed lower left 27 Ă— 20 cm
[Germany, b. 1931]
Vector, Letras e Linhas X, 1964 Monotype, letraset and artist intervention (fold) on paper 23 Ă— 23 cm Provenance Private Collection, SĂŁo Paulo Private Collection, London
[Britain, 1907 – 1969]
Permutation in Black and White, 1965 Stainless steel and painted wood on perspex and wood Signed and dated verso 35.5 × 35.5 × 9.5 cm Exhibited London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Aspects of Modern British and Irish Art, 2009 ‘Central to an understanding of the impact of Martin’s work must be the social channels through which British post-war constructivism was disseminated. Amongst the ‘constructionists’ who had been producing and exhibiting abstract work from the late 1940s onwards, Mary and Kenneth Martin, Anthony Hill and John Ernest surely sit at the centre of a London-based network of acquaintances built on personal commitment to hard-edged concrete art and to ongoing teaching activity that drew on, and informed, artistic practise. As if to reiterate the sense of community of effort, striking points of convergence between the work of Mary Martin, Hill and Ernest can be identified, such as the common adoption of a diamond format in their constructed reliefs around 1964-66, along with the investigation of 45-degree angle patterns. Whilst such affinities were always tempered by the individual artistic project at hand, it is tempting to consider Mary Martin’s use of these motifs from the early 1960s onwards as a prompt for her peers.’ Jonathon Hughes, An Ongoing Legacy from Mary Martin: The End is Always to Achieve Simplicity, Huddersfield Art Gallery, 2004
Antonio Calderara Misura Quadrata, 1966 Oil on panel 36 × 36 cm Provenance Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome Exhibited Verona, Studio la cittá Genoa, Galleria d'Arte Il Salotto Milano, Galleria Milano Genoa, Galleria la Polena Stockholm, Konstruktiv Tendens, 1980
[Italy, 1903 – 1978]
[Italy, 1905 – 1978]
Composizione, 1967 Oil on board Signed verso 60 × 70 cm Provenance Galleria Michelangelo, Bergamo Galleria d’Arte Lorenzelli, Bergamo
[Venezuela, b. 1923]
Physichromie No. 379, 1968 Signed and dated and titled ‘Physichromie No 379 Paris Janv. 1968’ verso Oil on wood with cardboard and reflective plastic 61 × 61 cm Provenance Private Collection, Germany Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf
[Britain, 1907 – 1969]
Perspex Group on White (D), 1969 Perspex on wood Signed and dated verso 61 × 61 × 26.6 cm Provenance John and Paul Martin Exhibited British Council, 1st Nurnberg Biennale of Constructive Art, 1969, no.13 London, Royal Academy of Arts, British Painting 1952 – 1977 London, Tate Gallery, Mary Martin, 1984, No.51 London, Camden Arts Centre, Kenneth Martin & Mary Martin: Constructed Works, 2007, no.64 London, Austin/Desmond Fine Art, Aspects of Modern British Art, 2008
[France, 1910 – 2005]
Altair, 1969 Acrylic on canvas Signed and dated ‘NEMOURS 1969’ verso 73.5 × 92 cm Provenance Galleria Lorenzelli, Bergamo
[Austria, 1912 – 1987]
Untitled, c1970s Gouache on paper 100 × 35 cm
‘. . . . there were those who were shocked by the extreme economy of means employed. “People like to complícate everything. But, at rock bottom, what impresses them most is simplicity itself. What surprises is the perfection of the line. It is what happens when someone sees the ocean for the first time. In reality there are just two colours, green and blue, separated by a line, that of the horizon...” Charoux’s unpretentious commentary illustrates the concept of the “organic line,” the virtual line between two planes, enunciated by Lygia Clark. While in Clark’s work the “organic line” marks the place of junction, of the folding, and the spinning of planes in space, in Charoux’s work the line that begins by circumscribing a form, subsequently becomes a “line of light.” The intermittent pulsations of the white scratches on the black, and the vibration of the complementaries on a field of color reaffirm, again and again, the luminous condition of the line in his work.’ Maria Alice Milliet, Lothar Charoux, The Poetics of the Line, Dan Galeria, São Paulo, 2005, p.40
[France, b. 1926]
Tirets 60° 90°, 1970 Acrylic on board Signed, dated and titled verso 80 × 80 cm Exhibited Lugano, Studio d'arte Contemporanea Dabenni Merate, Studio Casati
‘From an early stage in my career I looked for ways to take the fewest possible subjective decisions in the process of the creation of a painting. I wanted to be radically different from the lyrical abstraction of the École de Paris, which was the mainstream trend at that time, represented by popular artists such as Mathieu. ‘An earlier influence on how I thought about my painting came from a stay in Brazil, where my wife and I planned to emigrate to escape a possible third world war that threatened to spread from Korea during the early 1950s. In 1950 Max Bill had a big exhibition at the Museu de Arte Moderna in São Paulo, which had a tremendous impact. His work and approach (what he called “Concrete art”) was a major influence in South America from that time and until now. I went over to Brazil shortly after this show, which I discovered only through photographs and enthusiastic comments from young Brazilian artists.’ François Morellet talks about his work, Tate Etc, Issue 16, Summer 2009
Jesús Rafael Soto
[Venezuela, 1923 – 2005]
“Pour Lenk” Ambivalencia, 1971 Oil on wood and metal Signed and dated and inscribed ‘Pour Lenk’ verso 90 × 90 cm Provenance Private Collection, Germany Private Collection, Caracas
[Germany, b. 1932]
Gleichmäßig Hell/Dunkel, 1972-73 Plexiglass and wood relief Signed and dated on label verso 40 × 40 × 6 cm
‘A belief. . . . which has its origin in “Nouvelle Tendence,” is that the work should not be painted; colour should either come from the material used in its construction, or from the light falling on it – in effect an anti-painting stance. But for Klaus Staudt especially, it was this play of light which became such an important aspect of his art. In a typical work, subtle differences of colour and tone appear on each facet of the individual units, according to the angle of the light source; or by light reflected onto those in shadow. Each individual unit receives and reflects light in a different way, according to its positioning. The appearance of these works is subject to constant change as the light alters in the course of the day.’ John Carter, Klaus Staudt, Hartmut Böhm Concrete and Constructive Art from Germany, Beardsmore Gallery, London, March 2004
Sergio Camargo Untitled, 1973 White Carrara marble Engraved ‘Camargo’ on base 31 × 12 × 12 cm
[Brazil, 1930 – 1990]
[Brazil, 1930 – 1990]
No.398, 1974 White Carrara marble 18 × 20 × 20 cm
‘...one of the work’s singularities is the drastic reduction of the quality of materials, of any surface effects, of secondary optical disturbances. To begin, a phenomenological reduction is practically imposed – the work questions the pure appearance, never that which has already appeared. The white of the Carrara marble (later, also, the Belgian-black stone) would be thus less matter than sign of material possibility. Lackluster, almost without veins, the marble appears as transcendental matter par excellence.’ Ronaldo Brito, Sergio Camargo, Cosac & Naify Edições, 2000, p.38
[Britain, 1905 – 1984]
Order and Change (Black) 1, 1977 Oil on canvas Signed and titled verso 91.5 × 91.5 cm Exhibited London, Waddington and Tooth Galleries, Kenneth Martin, 1978 London, Juda Rowan Gallery New York, Sperone Westwater Foster Inc. Kenneth Martin, 1980 London, Arts Council, Kenneth Martin: The Late Paintings, 1985 Bottrop, Quadrat Bottrop Moderne Galerie, Kenneth and Mary Martin, 1986, No. 31 London, Camden Arts Centre, Kenneth Martin & Marry Martin: Constructed Works, 2007, No.37
‘In 1969 I realized I could develop drawings by the use of chance. I could make a sequence independent of my personality. I could be the spectator. Hence Chance and Order. These works were not made by knowledge or erudition. All was discarded except a numbered field, the character of the activitiy of the drawing of lines and my sense or art with which to start at the beginning again.’ Kenneth Martin, Chance and Order, The Sixth William Townsend Lecture, Waddington Galleries publictation, 1979 in Kenneth Martin & Mary Martin: Constructed Works, Camden Arts Centre, 2007, p.43
[Brazil, 1924 – 2003]
No. 1195, 1995 Indian ink and gouache on paper Signed lower right and numbered lower left 50 × 50 cm Provenance Private Collection, London Private Collection, São Paulo
[Brazil, 1924 – 2003]
Composition 00431, c1990s Enamel painted metal sculpture Engraved and numbered ‘Sacilotto 00431’ 34 × 36.5 × 18 cm
Biographies JOSEF ALBERS [Germany, 1888 – 1976] Born in Bottrop, Germany Josef Albers trained as a teacher before going on to study art in Berlin and Munich and most significantly in Weimar at the Bauhaus. He later become a teacher at the Bauhaus from 1923-33, first at Weimar and then at Dessau, teaching furniture design, drawing and calligraphy. After the forced closure of the Bauhaus, Albers moved to the United States where he taught at the Black Mountain College, North Carolina, where his
South America, inspiring numerous groups; most significantly the concrete art movement in Brazil. Bill exhibited at the Museu de Arte, São Paulo in 1950 and participated in the 1st Bienal de São Paulo in 1951 winning the international prize for sculpture. In 1944 Bill founded the magazine Abstrakt Konkret organising an exhibition of the same name at Kunsthalle, Basel. Bill co-founded the Ulm School of Design in 1951, where he was the principle until 1956. Bill died in Berlin in 1994.
students included Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Ray Johnson. He later taught at Yale. Albers first solo exhibition was at the Peri-13dico ‘El Nacional’ in Mexico City, 1936. Albers made many trips to Mexico which inspired his series of paintings, lithographs and screenprints entitled Homage to the Square, which demonstrate his interest in colour interaction and tonal variations. Albers died in New Haven in 1976.
ARTURO BONFANTI [Italy, 1905 – 1978] Born in Bergamo in 1905, Bonfanti moved to Milan in 1926. His first solo exhibition was in 1927 in Bergamo. From 1946 he travelled to Paris meeting, Magnelli, Schneider and Arp and to Zurich where he met Max Bill. He also travelled to London where he met Ben Nicholson and Victor Pasmore. In 1952 Bonfanti exhibited works concerned with motion and cinematography at the VIII Festival
CARMELO ARDEN QUIN [Uruguay, b. 1913] Carmelo Arden Quin was born in Rivera, Uruguay in 1913. In 1934 he moved to Montevideo and studied under Joaquín Torres García. Arden Quin began to experiment with curved wood and irregular
of Amateurs, Cannes and was awarded the prix du Film des Marionettes. In 1965 he participated in the IX Quadriennale of Rome, 1968 the XXXIV Biennale Internazionale, Venice and the X Biennale of San Paolo del Brasile in 1969.
convex and concave forms after being influenced by Torres Garcia’s geometric forms and ideas about constructivist art. During the 1940s Arden Quin moved to Argentina, where he co-founded the political and artistic group MADI, with such artists as Rodolfo Uricchio and Gyula Kosice. That the art object should break with the figurative tradition and need no further reference to the outside world other than its form, was an important leitmotif for the artists associated with MADI. Some of their most influential devices were the use of irregular shaped or trimmed frames, mobile wooden forms and
ANTONIO CALDERARA [Italy, 1903 – 1978] Italian painter and graphic artist, Antonio Calderara was born in 1903 in Abbiategrasso. He had his first solo exhibition in 1923. Calderara began as a figurative painter, the majority of his works inspired by the hazy light of Lake Orta, where he lived for many years. It wasn’t until 1957/58 that he turned to painting geometric forms and patterns. Influenced by Piet Mondrian, and in particular Josef Albers’s constructivist conception, Calderara’s work demonstrates an all
playful bright colours.
important concern for colour and light. From 1963-66 his canvases
MAX BILL [Switzerland, 1908 – 1994]
seems to emanate. Although Calderara was interested in
were composed of quadratic squares of colour, from which light Born in 1908 in Winterthur, Switzerland, Bill trained at the Bauhaus in Dessau from 1924-27 under the tutorage of Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. From 1931 Bill abandoned figuration in his work in favour of geometric abstraction, adopting Van Doesburg’s theory of ‘concrete art’, that is painting ‘entirely conceived and
geometrical proportion and order, his work is separated from the concrete movement by the lack of concern for rationality. He exhibited in 1969 at Kunstmuseum, Lucerne and in 1977 at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
formulated...before its execution’. From 1932-36 Bill was a member
SERGIO CAMARGO [Brazil, 1930 – 1990]
of the Paris based artists group Abstraction-Création exhibiting with
A successful and influential artist in Latin America, Camargo spent
them for the first time in 1933. In 1936, Bill formulated the Principles
a number of years studying and exhibiting in Paris. His practice
of Concrete Art, promoting it as a movement both in Europe and
concentrated on sculpture after seeing works by Brancusi, Arp and
Laurens among others. Although he was born and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Camargo was not part of the Concrete or Neo-Concrete Art movements that were prominent there from the 1950s onwards. He nevertheless exhibited at the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna in Rio between 1953 and 1960. His tendencies gravitated towards kinetic art and he exhibited with Carlos Cruz-Diez and other kinetic artists at the Galerie Denise René in Paris in 1963. Nevertheless, Camargo never formally joined the kinetic art movement. He won the international prize for sculpture at the Paris Biennale in 1963 and the sculptor prize at the São Paulo Biennial in 1965. Camargo also represented Brazil at the Venice Biennale in 1966. In 1970 he was awarded the prize for best sculpture of the year by the Association
GIANNI COLOMBO [Milan, 1937 – 1993] Born in Milan in 1937, Colombo, a leading Kinetic artist, studied at the Brera Academy in Milan from 1956-1959. In 1959 he exhibited at Galleria Azimut, Milan run by Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Between 1959 and 1960 Colombo founded the experimental group Gruppo T which had close ties with the Nouvelle Tendance group. Colombo’s work demonstrates a strong interest in physics, experimenting with new technology including electrical and magnetic mechanisms as well as neon lights. His first solo exhibition was held at Galleria Pater in Milan in 1960, where he exhibited his kinetic works integrated with light projections. In 1968 he won a prize at the Venice Biennale for his work Elastic Space (1967). In 1985 he
of Art Critics of São Paulo.
became the director of the Brera Academy.
LOTHAR CHAROUX [Austria, 1912 – 1987]
CARLOS CRUZ-DIEZ [Venzuela, b. 1923]
Lothar Charoux was born in Vienna but moved to Brazil in 1928. From 1948 onwards, he turned his attention to constructivist issues, founding the Grupo Ruptura in 1952 with artists Waldemar Cordeiro, and Geraldo de Barros. It has been pointed out that Charoux’s participation in the Grupo Ruptura led to a greater level of maturity in the Concrete Art of that period. Charoux’s work often explores optical games, luminosity and movement. During the 1950s he created a series of black drawings in which he explored the opposition of the white line in relation to the black surface. Charoux received the tribute of a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo and at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro in 1974.
LYGIA CLARK [Brazil, 1920 – 1988]
Cruz-Diez was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in the same city from 1940 - 1945. He would later teach at the same school and moved to Barcelona in 1955 from where he travelled to Paris regularly. There he nurtured relationships with artists such as Jesús Rafael Soto and Sergio Camargo and became associated with the Galerie Denise René. He returned to Caracas in 1957 and was appointed assistant director of the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in 1958. His first series of Physichromies was completed in 1959. These three dimensional works of art make use of colour and light that change depending on the position of the spectator in relation to them. The Physichromies mark a pivotal point in his work and career. Since 1970 Cruz-Diez has received a number of commissions all over the world for public buildings and spaces and remains active as an artist today.
Lygia Clark was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 1940s to study painting. During the early 1950s she lived and studied in Paris. On return to Brazil in 1952, she first exhibited her abstract paintings at the Ministry of Education and Culture in Rio. Clark followed the Concrete Art movement and was member of the Grupo Frente. This was a group of artists, among them Lygia Pape, who first exhibited together in 1954. However, unlike the ideas of the Concrete Art movement, Clark thought of the divisions of one geometric form to another as organic and in 1959 she signed the Neo-Concrete Manifesto. She was one of a number of artists who also founded this movement. Clark’s close professional relationship with Hélio Oiticica is mentioned by a number of scholars as it influenced Brazilian art significantly. During her career, Clark increasingly incorporated the spectator in her art through sensory experiences and participation. She eventually dedicated her professional life to this practice, blurring the lines between art and therapy.
GERALDO DE BARROS [Brazil, 1923 – 1998] Geraldo de Barros was a pioneer of abstract photography in Brazil. He is considered to be one of the most important artists of the Concrete Art movement. He began his artistic career from 1948 in São Paulo where he attended the Photo Cine Bandeirantes Club. During this period, de Barros began to create his Fotoformas series after coming into contact with European photographic experiments such as those by artists Man Ray and Lázló Maholy-Nagy. The Fotoformas represent a new era of photography in Brazil. By rendering common objects unidentifiable and by converting industrial structures into geometric patterns, they leave the merely representational and give photography a conceptual complexity it had previously lacked. In 1951 de Barros obtained a scholarship to study in Europe where he studied at Atelier Dix-Sept, the workshop of Stanley William Hayter, and at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm Germany (School of Form). It was there that he encountered artists
such as Max Bill. In 1952 on his return to Brazil, de Barros along with
rigidity of the Concrete artists in São Paulo was looked upon as too
other artists such as Lothar Charoux and Waldemar Cordeiro
dogmatic by many of the Concrete artists from Rio. Lauand was one
organised the Ruptura exhibition at the Museum de Arte Moderna
of Ruptura’s strictest adherents.
de São Paulo. This exhibition marked the official inauguration of Concrete Art in Brazil.
HERMELINDO FIAMINGHI [Brazil, 1920 – 2004]
ANTONIO LLORENS [Uruguay, 1920 – 1995] Llorens was an artist and graphic designer from Uruguay. He belonged to the Grupo de Arte No-Figurativo (1952) of which both
Fiaminghi was born and lived in São Paulo, where he studied at
José Pedro Costigliolo and Maria Freire were founding members.
the Art and Occupation School from 1936-1941. In 1942 he
Llorens used his precision as a graphic designer and successfully
became disciple of Waldemar da Costa and worked in various
translated this onto canvas, painting geometric forms. He also
printing firms, among them Lintas International Advertising.
formed part of Grupo MADI, a movement founded and lead by
Fiaminghi became a member of Grupo Ruptura in 1955, three
Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice and Rodolfo Uricchio in 1946 in
years after its inception. It was there that he first exhibited with Luis
Buenos Aires. This group broke with traditional compositional rules
Sacilotto and Lothar Charoux. Fiaminghi participated in the
and extended its activity literally beyond the frame of the painting.
National Concrete Art Exhibition in 1956 and in 1957. He also
Llorens exhibited at the second and third São Paulo Biennial in
shared a studio with Alfredo Volpi for a while in 1959. Volpi’s
1953 and 1955 respectively.
influence may have contributed to Fiaminghi eventually breaking away from Concrete Art. In a letter to Waldemar Cordeiro, he criticised Concrete Art for its dogmatism and limitations. Nevertheless, he participated in the exhibition of Concrete Art Konkrete Kunst in Zurich in 1960 on invitation by Max Bill.
RAÚL LOZZA [Argentina, 1911 – 2008] Raúl Lozza founded an abstract movement called Perceptismo. All his works, post-1947 adhere to this style. This was also the year that Lozza stopped exhibiting with the Asociación Arte ConcretoInvención which he had been part of since its inception in 1945.
ANTHONY HILL [Britain, b. 1930]
Lozza’s change of heart was due to his wish to continue his
Born in 1930 in London, Anthony Hill attended St. Martins School of
explorations into the coplanal form, the physical separation of forms
Art and the Central school of Art and Crafts, London. Initially
in space as a way of avoiding any kind of visual illusion. Others in the
influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism, Hill went on to experiment
Asociación however, including Tomás Maldonado and Alfredo Hlito,
with collage. His first group exhibition was at the I.C.A. in 1950
were progressively moving away from the coplanal towards a more
entitled Aspects of British Art. With a number of artists including
European style of abstraction and works that Lozza saw as being
Victor Pasmore, Mary Martin and Kenneth Martin he founded the
limited by the use of the rectangular frame. Lozza used the frame
Constructivist Group. They held a number of exhibitions, their first
as a neutral colour-field for which to view the coloured forms. He
being in 1951. From 1951-2 he went to Paris, meeting Picabia,
further separated these, by mounting them onto the colour field
Kupka and Vantongerloo. Hill abandoned painting, making his first
rather than painting them on.
relief in 1954. A retrospective of his work was held at the Hayward Gallery, London in 1983. A one man show Anthony Hill Works 195482 was held at Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London in 2003
JUDITH LAUAND [Brazil, b. 1922]
HEINZ MACK [Germany, b. 1931] Born in Lollar, Mack moved to Düsselldorf in 1949, where he studied painting at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1950-53. He had his first solo exhibition in 1957 at the Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf. Between
In 1954 Lauand worked as a monitor at the International São Paulo
1956-8 he painted monochrome canvases with parallel lines,
Biennial and came into contact with the work of Geraldo de Barros
creating his first aluminium light reliefs in 1958. He is most renowned
and Lothar Charoux among others. Later, she was invited by
as one of the founder members of the ZERO Group. Founded in
Waldemar Cordeiro to join Grupo Ruptura and remained until its end
1957 along with Otto Piene, and later Gunther Uecker, ZERO aimed
as the only female member. She exhibited with them at such historic
to break with all artistic practices that had taken place before,
exhibitions as 1 Exposicao Nacional de Arte Concreta at the Museo
prioritising light, movement and space. The group organised a
Arte Moderna, São Paulo in 1956 and the Konkrete Kunst show in
number of experimental evening exhibitions in the Studio in
Zurich in 1960. The 1 Exposicao Nacional de Arte Concreta marked
Gladbacher Straße, Düsseldorf, and published three editions of the
the beginning of the rift between the Concrete groups in the cities
magazine ZERO, before disbanding in 1966. From 1959 Mack made
São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The strict adherence to geometric
reliefs with light columns as well as motorised elements. Mack was
honoured with the 1st Prix Arts Plastiques of the 4th Biennale de
rhythms, to investigate the relationship between perception and the
Paris in 1965 and had a number of public commissions in the 1980s
environment. Morellet exhibited with GRAV in numerous exhibitions,
including the Jürgen-Ponto-Platz in Frankfurt in 1981.
including The Responsive Eye, Musuem of Modern Art, New York, 1965. A retrospective of his work was held at the Musée National
KENNETH MARTIN [Britain, 1905 – 1984] Sheffield born Kenneth Martin studied part time at the Sheffield
d’Art Moderne, Paris in 1986.
School of Art from 1927-29, whilst also working as a graphic artist.
AURÉLIE NEMOURS [France 1910 – 2005]
He continued his studies at the Royal College of Art, London, where
Born in 1910 in Paris, Nemours studied at the Louvre School of Fine
he met his wife Mary in 1929. It wasn’t until 1949 that he turned to
Arts and later at the Academy of Andre L’hote in 1945 and at the
abstraction, using proportional and mathematical systems, in
Atelier Fernand Léger in 1949. She turned to abstraction in 1949,
particular the Fibonacci system. Martin produced Kinetic mobile
investigating the relationships between geometric archetypes, line,
sculptures, demonstrating a concern with movement and change,
colour and form. Her first solo exhibition was held at Gallery Colette
until the end of the 1960s when he began a series of large paintings
Allendy in 1953. Nemours was involved in the activities of the groups
and drawings which looked at the relationship between causality and
Space founded in 1951 and Mesure both groups having close ties
order. Kenneth & Mary Martin had strong international connections
with the New Realities group. She also exhibited with Galerie Denise
exhibiting in Koncrete Kunst, Zurich in 1960 organised by Swiss artist
René Paris in 1986, 1988 and 1995. A retrospective of her work was
Max Bill. A retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Gallery,
held at the Centre Pompidou in 2004.
London in 1975.
MARY MARTIN [Britain, 1907 – 1969]
HÉLIO OITICICA [Brazil, 1937 – 1980] Hélio Oiticica came from an upper middle-class background. His
Born in Folkstone in 1907, Mary Martin Studied at Goldsmith College
father was a painter and photographer among other things, while his
from 1925-29 before going on to the Royal College of Art from 1929-
grandfather was a well known anarchist from Rio de Janeiro. Oiticica
32. She married fellow artist Kenneth Martin in 1930. From 1934 she
opposed bourgeois values and political oppression. His anarchic
exhibited mainly figurative works at the A.I.A. Martin turned to
tendencies are detectable in his art and the way he created it,
abstraction in 1950, making her first relief, based on the proportional
especially in his later career. In 1954 he studied with Ivan Serpa who
geometry of the Golden Section, in the following year and her first
exhibited at the 1st São Paulo Biennial in 1951. Oiticica began his
free-standing construction in 1956. She exhibited with her husband,
career as a concrete painter and joined Grupo Frente in 1955. He
Kenneth Marin, at the Heffer Gallery, Cambridge in 1954. She also
was influenced by European painters such as Malevich and
exhibited with the London Group from 1932. Her reliefs and
Mondrian. Much like his close friend, Lygia Clark, he believed that art
constructions utilise industrial materials such as glass and wood and
is a system of knowledge that is to be experienced directly by the
demonstrate a scientific and mathematical approach. A joint
spectator. Both artists, together with Lygia Pape, formed the Neo-
retrospective of Mary and Kenneth Martin’s work was held at the
Concrete art movement in 1959 and continued to work together on
Camden Arts Centre, London in 2007
several occasions creating art that involved the viewer and became increasingly progressive. In 1960 he was invited by Max Bill to take
FRANÇOIS MORELLET [France, b. 1926] François Morellet was born in 1926 in Cholet, France. He was a selftaught artist and turned to geometric abstraction in 1950, exhibiting in the same year at Galerie Creuze, Paris; his first solo exhibition.
part in the Konkrete Kunst Exhibition in Zurich. Oiticica also exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery London in 1969.
LYGIA PAPE [Brazil, 1927 – 2004]
Influenced by the simplicity of Mondrian’s visual language, Morellet’s
Lygia Pape, is famous for, not only being a founding member of the
work followed a strongly applied system. His paintings would be
Neo-Concrete art movement, alongside Hélio Oiticica and Lygia
subdivided by horizontal and vertical lines either painted or in wire
Clark, but also for being a leading pioneer of Brazil’s creative avant-
lattice. Morellet was more interested in the method than in the
garde in the late 1950s. Pape was born in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, and
outcome, reducing the artists subjectivity to the minimum. He was a
attended art courses at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de
founder member of the group GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art
Janeiro. Before signing the Neo-Concrete manifesto, she was
Visuel), established in Paris in 1960, a group of experimental Kinetic
member of Grupo Frente, which formed part of the Concrete Art
artists. In 1963 he began using neon tubes which emitted luminous
movement. Pape first exhibited with them in 1954 and 1956. She
addressed formal problems in her art by fusing geometric forms with the natural design of wood, a material used by her on a number of occasions. She was also professor at the Universidade Federal in Rio de Janeiro for a number of years.
JESÚS RAFAEL SOTO [Venezuela, 1923 – 2005] Jesús Rafael Soto was a major pioneer of the Op and Kinetic Art movements. He was greatly influenced by the late works of Piet Mondrian and began to experiment with form and optical illusions. He was born in Venezuela but moved to Paris in 1950, where he came
BRIDGET RILEY [Britain, b. 1931] Bridget Riley is considered Britain’s foremost exponent of Op Art. Riley studied at Goldsmith’s College from 1949 to 1952 and later at the Royal College of Art from 1952-1955. It wasn’t until 1960 that she began to paint her monochrome ‘Op’ pieces, in which the systematic progressions of geometric patterns engage the viewer with a disorientating visual experience. Her first solo exhibition was at Gallery One in 1962. She won an International Painting Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1968. After a trip to Egypt in the 1980s Riley began to explore the effects of juxtaposing colours in her works. Riley has had numerous retrospective exhibitions, including Tate, London in 2003.
LUIS SACILOTTO [Brazil, 1924 – 2003] Sacilotto was born in Santo André in the state of São Paulo. He was the son of Italian immigrants. After finishing school in 1943 he worked for Hollerith Brazil as a designer. At the same time he furthered his artistic career. While his paintings in the 1940s were figurative, by the 1950s he became an integral part of the concrete art movement and of Grupo Ruptura which was formed in 1952. He and Da Silva Mavignier exhibited together in that same year. Prior to this, he exhibited at the first São Paulo Biennale in 1951 and later at the Venice Biennale in 1952. He further exhibited at the Concrete Art exhibition in São Paulo in 1956 and in Rio de Janeiro in 1957. Sacilotto was also invited by Max Bill to exhibit at the Konkrete Kunst Exhibition in Zurich in 1960.
MIRA SCHENDEL [Switzerland, 1919 – 1988]
in to contact with artists Victor Vasarely and Jean Tinguely as well as other artists connected to the Salon des Réalitiés Nouvelles and the Galerie Denise René. In 1955 Soto renounced the primacy of painting becoming famous for developing a new way of expressing movement through visual effects in his three-dimensional constructions. Later he made a number of wall-sized interactive sculptures known as Penetrables, made with a great number of hanging rods or threads. In 1973 the Jesús Soto Museum of Modern Art opened in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela.
KLAUS STAUDT [Germany, b. 1932] German concrete artist, Klaus Staudt was born in Ottendorf in 1932. Staudt studied medicine in Marburg and Munich from 1954-59 before going on to study painting at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich from 1959-1963. Staudt became a member of the international movement Nouvelle Tendance in 1963. His work demonstrates a systematic mathematical approach, organising small blocks on a square grid, subtly altering the angle of each block to create a fresh and vibrant work. The interaction and movement of light is an important concern for Staudt, he was adamant that all colour should be natural to the materials, often using coloured plexiglass to colour the work. From 1974-94 he was professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main and from 1974 he conceived and built the Concrete Art Collection of the Landkreis Cuxhaven. In 1992 Staudt was given the Honorary award at the 5th International Triennial for Drawing, Wroclaw.
VICTOR VASARELY [Hungary, 1906 – 1997] Many consider Victor Vasarely to be the founder of Op Art. After
Mira Schendel was born in Zurich and moved to Milan to study art
studying in Budapest, he began his career working as a graphic
and philosophy. She abandoned her studies during the Second
designer and poster artist, where he made his first Op work. During
World War and soon moved again to Brazil where she participated
the 1940s he exhibited at the Galerie Denise René in Paris with
in the 1st Bienal Internacional de São Paulo in 1951. During the
works of cubist, futuristic and even surrealist styles. Afterwards,
1960s, Schendel made a series of drawings on rice paper which
Vasarely admitted he felt he was on the wrong track. From 1947
paved the way for a period of intense experimentation. She made a
onwards he began to develop a purely geometric abstract art.
series of twisted rice paper sculptures called Droguinhas (Little
Vasarely spent time in South America, completing a large ceramic
Nothings), which she exhibited at the Signals Gallery in London in
mural commission for the University of Caracas in Venezuela in
1966 on the recommendation of noted curator and critic Guy Brett.
1954. During this time he also made and exhibited Kinetic art
Unlike her artistic contemporaries Schendel chose not to convey the
alongside Jesús Rafael Soto and Jean Tinguely at the Galerie
tumultuous Brazilian political situation through her art, but to
Denise René and elsewhere. In 1970 the first museum dedicated to
concentrate on formal issues alone.
his works opened in France.
Glossary Abstraction-Création Abstraction-Création was a loose association of abstract artists founded by Theo van Doesburg in 1931. Based in Paris the group aimed to promote abstract art by holding regular exhibitions until 1936. Led by Auguste Herbin and Georges Vantongerloo membership grew to 600 and included every major abstract painter. The group published five annual publications.
Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) GRAV was a Paris based group in existence from 1960-68. Members included François Morellet and Julio Le Parc. The group aimed to have a single identity, liberating their work from personal ambition in favour of systematic collective research. The group used new technological innovations to create works which examined experiences, for example visual experiences or the active participation of the viewer. Works often used geometric forms to provoke these
Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención was founded in Buenos Aires in 1945 by Tomas Maldonado. The group's manifesto advocated scientific aesthetics based on invention rather than representation. While initially creating artworks with irregular frames, the group eventually returned to a more conventional rectangular shape, in line with European Concretism. Members included Raúl Lozza and Lidy Prati.
British Constructivism Constructive Art and Architecture originated in Russia in the early 20th Century. It was characterised as the use of industrial materials and ideological mind set. British Constructivism however, refers specifically to a group of British abstract artists working in the 1950s and 1960s that made reliefs and small constructions using perspex and metal. Artists included Kenneth and Mary Martin, Anthony Hill and Victor Pasmore and they exhibited as a group at the British Abstract Art exhibition at the A.I.A. Gallery, London, in 1951.
experiences with light and kinetic elements also.
Grupo de Arte No-Figurativo This Uruguayan movement was formed in 1952 by José Pedro Costigliolo and María Freire. The group did not propagate political views but focused its practise on formal issues in art. Much like the concrete movements, it rejected figurative painting, sculpture, interpretations of objects in the world and focused its practice on geometric forms.
Grupo Frente Grupo Frente formed in 1954 in Rio de Janeiro. Ivan Serpa was one of its founding members. Other members include Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Pape. Working according to concrete ideals, artworks had to adhere to logical and clear principles. Grupo Frente rejected figurative painting and the interpretation of artworks. Artists associated with Grupo Frente eventually broke away from Concrete Art in 1959 and established the Neo-Concrete movement in Brazil.
Inspired by earlier Constructivist aesthetics, many of the British
Constructivists used mathematical theories to underpin the
Grupo MADI originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1946 and was
geometric forms and rhythms they created.
established by Carmelo Arden Quin, Rodolfo Uricchio and Gyula Kosice. This group radically changed the framing of conventional paintings by cutting them into irregular shapes. The manifesto was
Concrete Art This term was first employed by Theo van Doesburg in 1930 in his Maifesto of Concrete Art published in Art Concret Magazine. Max Bill later continued the movement after Van Doesburg’s death in 1931. In contrast to abstraction which seeks to reinterpret the world,
written by Arden Quin in 1946. Artists like Gyula Kosice, Antonio Llorens and Carmelo Arden Quin first exhibited in 1946. MADI art was often brightly coloured with irregular shapes and moveable wooden elements or mobiles.
Concrete Art is wholly detached from observed reality. It does not
seek an interpretation of the object; rather it focused on its physical
Groupo Ruptura was formed and led by Waldemar Cordeiro in São
properties such as line, colour and plane.
Paulo in 1952 and marked the beginning of Concrete Arte in Brazil.
The Manifesto Ruptura, scripted by Corderio, advocated art as ‘a means of knowledge deductible from concepts’. Their art conformed to concrete ideals and dismissed representational and figurative practice. Grupo Ruptura represented a much stricter adherence to the ideals of Concrete Art compared with Grupo Frente. Other artists who formed part of this group include Lothar Charoux, Luis Sacilloto, Judith Lauand, Geraldo de Barros and Hermelindo Fiaminghi.
Gruppo T Gruppo T, formed in 1959, was a Kinetic art group based in Milan. Members included Gianni Colombo, Grazia Varisco, and Giovanni Anceschi. Members shared an interest in time and space, using devices such as electric motors or iron filings to invite the participation of the spectator. The group had twelve exhibitions together entitled Miroriorama (‘thousands’ and ‘images’). Lucio Fontana was a great supporter of the movement. The group disbanded in 1962.
Neo-Concrete Art This Brazilian based movement marked a split from the rigid and dogmatic practises of Concrete Art. The Neo-Concrete movement emerged in 1959 in Rio de Janiero after the disbandment of Grupo
Perceptismo Raúl Lozza founded Perceptismo in 1947 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In doing so, he broke away from Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención. He wanted to further explore the use of the plane and did so by experimenting with large areas of enamel on wood to create the type of surface which rejected any kind of subjectivity. He shared the idea of ‘. . . a collective art with a social message’ of other Concrete Art movements. Nevertheless, he writes in his manifesto: ‘Perceptismo painting extols the elements of visual perception of art in the colour plane and thus creates a relationship between the viewer and the painting...’. Lozza published Perceptismo magazine from 1950-1953.
Salon des Réalitiés Nouvelles Parisian based ‘Society of New Realities’ was founded by Sonia Delaunay, Jean Arp and others in 1939. It closed and then reopened after the War in 1946. The movement continued the practice of Abstraction-Création, promoting pure abstraction through group exhibitions. Exhibiting artists included Josef Albers and Carmelo Arden Quin among many others. The group held its greatest influence in the 1950s.
Frente and included key artists such as Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. It promoted the participation of the spectator with art objects and the sensual experiences derived from this. Nevertheless, it still recognized its roots in Concrete Art and geometric abstraction.
Nouvelle Tendance (or New Tendency) Nouvelle Tendance was a loose association of international artists active in the early 1960s. It originated after an exhibition entitled Nove Tendencije in Zagreb in 1961. Proponents emphasised the importance of collective scientific research, utilising geometry and scientific systems in their works. The group had close ties with Gruppo T and GRAV, members included Klaus Staudt.
Op Art Op Art or ‘Optical Art’ refers to the use of monochromatic geometric patterns to explore optical effects in the spectator. It originated with the Constructivist practices of the Bauhaus. Many consider Victor Vasarely to be the founder of Op Art, however, Bridget Riley and both Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez, are also major exponents of this style of art.
AUSTIN/DESMOND FINE ART Pied Bull Yard 68-69 Great Russell Street London, WC1B 3BN T: +44 (0)20 7242 4443 F: +44 (0)20 7404 4480 email@example.com www.austindesmond.com
MATTEO LAMPERTICO ARTE ANTICA E MODERNA Via Montebello, 30 20121 Milan T: +39 (02) 36586547 F: +39 (02) 36586548 firstname.lastname@example.org www.matteolampertico.it In association with Arevalo Arte, Miami ISBN 978-1872926-32-2 Printed by Healeys Print Group Photography by Colin Mills Compiled and written by Emily Austin and Laura Harford with research by Stefanie Kogler Front cover image: Detail, RaĂşl Lozza, Numero 278 (Perceptismo), 1950