As part of the reopening of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, is exhibited since yesterday (October 21stSur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction in the Robert B. Menschel Galleries located on the third floor. Highlighting the artworks of artists such as Lygia Clark, Gego, Raúl Lozza, Hélio Oiticica, Jesús Rafael Soto and Rhod Rothfuss, the museum celebrates the arrival of the largest collection of Latin American abstract and concrete art donated to the museum by the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection. Under new Curator of Latin American Art Inés Katzenstein’s (Argentina, 1970) organization and curators María Amalia García and Karen Grimson, the exhibition explores the concept of transformation as a reinvention of the artistic object and a mutation of the social environment through art and design, and welcomes the new MoMA and its space dedicated to Latin American art.

Installation view of Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction―The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 21, 2019 – March 14, 2020. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Heidi Bohnenkamp

As reported from the museum, Sur moderno is conceived within three thematic axes. First, Artworks as Artifacts, Artworks as Manifestos, where oeuvres that have displaced the physical forms of painting and sculpture questioning the autonomous nature of the artistic object are exhibited. It is in this section that artworks such as Space Construction no. 12 (c. 1920), by Aleksandr Rodchenko ―reflection of the enormous influence of Russian constructivism in South America―, or Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942–1943), by Piet Mondrian, whose circulation on the Latin American scene was an engine for experimentation of the kinetic currents of artists such as Jesús Rafael Soto and his Double Transparency (1956) ―where the Venezuelan artist seeks to transform Mondrian's piece into a three-dimensional experience―, for example.

In a second instance, the Modern as Abstract section highlights the role of designers and architects who transferred the geometric principles that were previously exclusive to painting to the daily life environment, thus generating a shared worldview between the protagonists of the artistic scene and the agents of other disciplines. Untitled (1954), by María Freire, for example, is shown along with archival materials and works from the MoMA Architecture and Design collection, in an exploration of public projects and furniture design.

Finally, Sur moderno dedicates an entire section to one of the central motives of Latin American modern art: the grid. Works such as Gego’s Square Reticularea 71/6 (1971) or Hélio Oiticica’s Painting 9 (1959) are exhibited here. In this way, the exhibition proposes to investigate the plurality of transformations and expansions of the rational grid. In the case of Oiticica, for example, the Brazilian artist interrupted the traditional geometric system with a series of organically collapsible rectangles; Gego, on the other hand, deformed and expanded the reticular structure.



With more than 100 artworks by well-known artists within the Latin American scene, Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction―The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift renews the MoMA treasure and values ​​the global character of South American production. The exhibition will remain until March 14, 2020.