By María Lucía Nielsen | October 19, 2018

After a significant remodeling the Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires (MAMBA) reopened its doors this July with an exhibition held jointly with the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt with the aim of reviewing the modern collections facing a global art history.


The cultural objects are not immortal, they are fastened to historical deterioration. Thus, Historia de Dos Mundos (A Tale of Two Worlds) is situated in a context of world rereading where the question does not go through revising evolutionary schemes of artistic modernity to embed the avant-garde Latin American irruptions. But, rather, "suspend the evolutionary model to make visible the historical simultaneity" (Giunta, 2014). The inevitable multiplicity of history is similar to the multiplicity of language.

Latin American art has been seen through the crystals of similarity with respect to European and North American art. The art stories organized and built from cities such as Paris, London, New York and Berlin that are then exported to the world are a premise repeated until the satiety. This perspective implies reducing the sophistication of their language strategies while leaving aside the rich network of appropriations carried out in the cultural field. Historia de Dos Mundos answers to the Kulturstiftung des Bundes call, which seeks that the great museums of Germany give a more global perspective to their collections. The Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt energetically hosted the proposal together with the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires. Together they established a journey that makes the bibliographic coincidences visible, together with the thematic analogies and the aesthetic differences between the different artistic scenes.

The exhibition featured 500 works of art from private and public collections made by one hundred artists and collectives from Latin America, the United States and Europe. Historia de Dos Mundos structure explores possibilities and dimensions of dialogue between different cultures through sixteen subsections organized into three main narrative axes.

The first structured from Argentine artist Lucio Fontana artworks. His work serves as a starting point to deal with two problems throughout the exhibition: surface and destruction. The second axis is structured from different narrative axes with artists from each culture. In the first room the monochrome paintings are taken to their extreme to be turned into living art. The next room deals with the alteration of artistic objects essence to include processes that involve the sensoriality of individual body and subjectivity. Then, the city is taken as axis to be transformed, and then the domestic space appears as a reflection of the identities of the new social sectors during the Cold War. Towards the end, the popular imagery used by Latin American artists with deep political roots is a continent devastated by colonization and capitalism development. Through strategies provided by the media and mass consumption, this work is presented in colloquium with artists from European and North American cultures through political speeches that deal with the manipulation of people's lives and identities. Finally, the third axis is built through the artist figure and his place in the world. The exhibition concludes with the analogy between Kendeth Kemble's Great Black Painting (1960) and Roy Linchenstein's Yellow and Green Brushtokes (1966): both, different forms of appropriation of the symbol of the pictorial tradition at specific times.

Thus, the European-American canonical artworks from 1955 to 1986 period dialogue with the Latin American avant-gardes that begin in 1944 with the concrete art movement in Argentina, until 1980 with the end of the military dictatorships in the region presenting a debate on the reactions of artists in different socio-political contexts. However, of the 110 artists listed in the catalog, only 16% are women. The question could be then: Can a global art history be illustrated when more than half of the population has been leaved aside?