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Breaking Ground: 20th-Century Latin American Art at the Norton Simon Museum

In celebration of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month, the Norton Simon Museum presents an exhibition of works from 20th century Latin American artists.

In celebration of Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month, the Norton Simon Museum presents an exhibition of works from 20th-century Latin American artists. Spanning the period from 1931 to 1985, the featured artworks demonstrate how artists broke new ground, leaving behind or drastically altering artistic conventions to explore diverse forms of modernism. This intimate exhibition comprises 12 artworks from the Norton Simon Museum’s collection by not only some  of the most revered names in Latin American art but also artists who are less widely known. Included are the Mexican painters, lithographers and  photographers Diego Rivera, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Rufino Tamayo, José Luis Cuevas and Ángel Bracho, as well as South Americans Roberto Matta  (from Chile), Gego (also known as Gertrud Goldschmidt, from Venezuela) and Antonio Frasconi (from Uruguay). The exhibition opens September 13th, 2013.

In a collection that is known primarily for its holdings of European and Indian and Southeast Asian art, the provenance of works from Latin America merits attention. Works by Rivera and Bracho were collected by German art dealer Galka Scheyer, who donated her collection to the Museum (then named the Pasadena Art Museum) in 1953. Prints by Tamayo, Cuevas and Gego are part of  the Museum’s renowned collection of prints from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, which was founded in Los Angeles in 1960. Photographs by Álvarez Bravo came to the Museum in 1971 for the  artist’s first major U.S. exhibition. The prestigious Weyhe Gallery of New York, which was Roberto Matta (Chilean, 1911–2002) Design 1985, 1985 Etching, color ink on Arches paper Norton Simon Museum, which was instrumental in representing Latin American artists in the early 20th century, gifted the piece by Frasconi. And the signature piece by Matta was the recent gift of Museum supporters Terry and Sharon Bridges.

All together, these works demonstrate that 20th-century Latin American artists were engaged with a variety of subjects and themes, and that they conceived of the “figure” in radically different ways. Employing line, shape, form, color and texture, they undertook innovative approaches to figure–ground relations, using positive and negative space for various purposes. These varied compositions remind us that modernist tenets—whether elaborated in the United States, Europe or Latin America—represented communal ground, as artists exchanged and adapted stylistic innovations for seemingly endless purposes.

Breaking Ground: 20th-Century Latin American Art at the Norton Simon Museum is organized by Lynn LaBate, head of education at the Norton Simon Museum. A series of programs will be presented in conjunction with the exhibition. More information can be found at  www.nortonsimon.org.

About the Norton Simon Museum
The Norton Simon Museum is known around the world as one of the most remarkable private art collections ever assembled. Over a 30 year period, industrialist Norton Simon (1907–1993) amassed an astonishing collection of European art from the Renaissance to the 20th century, and a stellar collection of Indian and Southeast Asian art spanning 2,000 years. Modern and Contemporary Art  from Europe and the United States, acquired by the former Pasadena Art Museum, also occupies an important place in the Museum’s collections. The Museum houses more than 12,000 objects, roughly 1,000 of which are on view in the galleries and gardens. Two exhibition spaces feature rotating installations of artworks not on permanent display.