For the third time in three years, the Fundación Juan March devotes an exhibition to modern and contemporary art in Latin America. Cold America: Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934–1973) follows in the footsteps of the show dedicated to Tarsila do Amaral and Brazil (Madrid, 2009) and the first retrospective of Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez held in Spain (Cuenca and Palma, between 2008 and 2009).
Until now, geometric abstraction in Latin America had only been treated as a mere chapter in exhibitions that focused on the more general aspects of Latin-American art. In other cases, projects of this nature resulted in excellent shows that were, however, restricted to outstanding private collections. Held for the most part in museums in North and South America, these exhibitions typically concentrated on South American geometric abstraction and the representative cases of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, which, nonetheless, exclude other countries. Cold America: Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934–1973) offers a specific yet overarching view of abstraction in Latin America, incorporating Cuban as well as expressions of Colombian and Mexican abstract art to the narrative of the project.
In addition to the nearly 300 works by 64 artists, the exhibition also features artworks by Germán Cueto (Mexico) and Leo Matiz (Colombia). Showcased too is the work of several European artists who paved the way for abstraction, geometric art, and the architectural and geometric applications of both styles: Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Victor Vasarely, Max Bill, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Traveling through the countries represented in the exhibition, these artists left a mark thanks to both their art and skill, inspiring a number of Latin-American artists, some of whom lived in Europe, and in Paris in particular, from the 1950s onwards.
The exhibition refers to a concept that differs from the usual stereotype: it does not point to a hasty and clichéd identification of the continent with the intense heat of spontaneity, or to an association of the notion of the indigenous with that of the tropics and the Caribbean. In spite of obvious differences between the artists—due to generation gaps and the personal and historic circumstances that determined their work as well as the styles that prevailed in each country—, the works on view prove Latin America can in fact be measured in terms of objectivity. This was a Geometrical, constructivist, and elemental America that moved between the rational and the “sensível,” gravitating towards modern theories rather than local color. In short, an America that gave rise to a fascinating and surprising type of abstract art.