During the mid-twentieth century, Latin American artists working in several different cities radically altered the nature of modern art. Reimagining the relationship of art to its public, these artists granted the spectator an unprecedented role in the realization of the artwork. The first book to explore this phenomenon on an international scale, Abstraction in Reverse traces the movement as it evolved across South America and parts of Europe.
Alexander Alberro demonstrates that artists such as Tomás Maldonado, Jesús Soto, Julio Le Parc, and Lygia Clark, in breaking with the core tenets of the form of abstract art known as Concrete art, redefined the role of both the artist and the spectator. Instead of manufacturing autonomous art, these artists produced artworks that required the presence of the spectator to be complete. Alberro also shows the various ways these artists strategically demoted regionalism in favor of a new modernist voice that transcended the traditions of the nation-state and contributed to a nascent globalization of the art world.
Presenting new scholarship, this publication is an innovative technical study of the Concrete art movement in Latin America.
Purity Is a Myth presents new scholarship on Concrete art in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay from the 1940s to the 1960s. Originally coined by the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg in 1930, the term concrete denotes abstract painting with no reference to external reality. Van Doesburg argued that there was nothing more real than a line, color, or plane. Artists such as Willys de Castro, Lygia Clark, Waldemar Cordeiro, Hermelindo Fiaminghi, Judith Lauand, Raúl Lozza, Tomás Maldonado, Hélio Oiticica, and Rhod Rothfuss would reinvent this concept in postwar Latin America.
Drawing on research conducted by Getty and international partners, the essays in this volume address a variety of topics, including the general history, emergence, and reception of Concrete art; processes and color; scientific analysis of works; illustrated chronologies of the paint industry in Brazil and Argentina; and Concrete design on paper. An innovative technical study of the Concrete art movement in Latin America, this volume will be indispensable to scholars, practitioners, and students of Latin American art.