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Beyond Geography

The Americas Society, New York

An Archival Exhibition Celebrating 40 Years at the Vanguard of Visual Arts in the Americas, highlighting groundbreaking works by artists from across the hemisphere, and documents a chapter of the establishment of Latin American art in the U.S.: paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, installations and archival materials linking the organization's history to crucial moments of art production in the Americas.

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Americas Society Presents Beyond Geography, an Archival Exhibition Celebrating 40 Years at the Vanguard of Visual Arts in the Americas

The exhibition highlights groundbreaking works by artists from across the hemisphere, and documents a chapter of the establishment of Latin American art in the U.S.

Beyond Geography: Forty Years of Visual Arts at the Americas Society, an archival exhibition presenting paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, installations and archival materials linking the organization’s history to crucial moments of art production in the Americas, will open July 14 at the Americas Society. The exhibition will launch the celebration of the Americas Society’s 40th Anniversary and features over 30 artworks and significant documents by artists from Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America and the U.S., all relating to the gallery’s history.

Founded by David Rockefeller in 1965, the Americas Society promotes the understanding of the political, economic, and cultural issues that define and challenge the Americas today. In his book Memoirs, Mr. Rockefeller noted that the Americas Society played a major role in introducing “New Yorkers and other Americans to the diversity, beauty, and sophistication of Latin American artists, musicians, and writers. Among (its) activities the (Americas Society) held the first one-man show in New York for Fernando Botero, the great Colombian painter; [and] sponsored the first New York auction of Latin American art at Sotheby’s, which inspired both Sotheby’s and Christie’s to begin their own auctions of Latin American art.” (Random House, 2002)

This retrospective exhibition takes the Americas Society’s mission statement as its conceptual core and explores its transformation through time. It examines the points of origin of collecting art from the Americas in the U.S., the institutionalization of this art, and its introduction to the public through exhibitions, public events and publications produced by the Americas Society over the past 40 years. Drawing on the gallery’s history of exhibiting Pre-Columbian, Colonial, Modern and Contemporary art, the exhibition gives special emphasis to themes of identity and to the specific achievements of the neo-avant-garde movement that expanded the Americas Society’s mission beyond nationalistic and geographic constructions.

Works on view include emblematic prints by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and Omar Rayo. A painting by Fernando Botero references his first one-man exhibition at the Americas Society. Other groundbreaking works that will return to the gallery for this historic exhibition include Wilfredo Lam’s Ceux de la Porte Battante (1945), Kim Dingle’s Maps of the U.S. Drawn from Memory by Las Vegas Teenagers (1990) and Pietá by Melchor Pérez Holguín (c.1720). Portraits and documentary photography by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Martin Chambi, Burt Glinn and Geneviève Cadieux are included, as well as works by Willys de Castro, Cesar Paternosto and Jo Baer, exhibited here for the first time. Experimental works that helped to build the Americas Society’s prestige as a visionary institution will also be presented, including Gego’s Tronco and her preparatory drawings for the Reticularárea (1969-70), Michael Snow’s W in the D (1971), archival materials of Marta Minuj in’s performance Minucode (1967) and Eduardo Costa, John Perrault and Hannah Weiner’s Fashion Show Poetry Event (1969), as well as Juan Downey’s Map of Chile (1973).


About the exhibition:
Organized in three non-chronological sections, Beyond Geography reexamines the ideas, projects, and cultural agencies that emerged during the Cold War and were decisive in making visible art from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada in New York. The section Points of Origin reflects the pivotal position of the Rockefeller family –most especially Nelson-- as pioneer collectors of Latin American art in the U.S. It includes works such as the prints by Diego Rivera, Omar Rayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros purchased through the endowment instituted by the Rockefellers as the Inter-American Purchase Fund at the MoMA. An Inca mask and Maya polychrome vase refer to past exhibitions, as well as new developments in scholarship and shifting notions of these objects from ethnographic material to art object. The Pietà by Potosi master Melchor Pérez Holguín marks the Americas Society’s outstanding exhibitions of Colonial Art that helped to set precedents for this field in the U.S. Wilfredo Lam’s 1945 Ceux de la Porte Battante, was displayed in the gallery in 1979 as part of the first Latin American Art auction in New York, proposed and co-organized by collector Barbara Duncan at the Americas Society’s gallery for Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc.

Beginning with Kim Dingle’s Maps of the U.S. Drawn from Memory by Las Vegas Teenagers (1990), the section called Beyond Geography brings together artists and works from the Americas Society’s past that highlight the intersections of and departures from geography, identity, and nationality. A striking Casta painting from the Hispanic Society of America invites re-consideration of notions of race and identity, explored in depth in the Americas Society’s 1996 exhibition “New World Orders: Casta Painting and Colonial Latin America.” The works of Yoshua Okon and Julio Galán offer contemporary positions on identity. Works by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Martin Chambi and Geneviève Cadieux invoke past exhibitions that explored photography as related to social structures, nationality, class and gender relations. From the Visual Arts archival files, an early unrealized proposal by Felix González Torres concerning telenovelas reveals changing approaches in the trajectory of the artist’s work from issues of cultural identity to abstract works like Untitled [Aparición] (1991), a stack of paper that disrupted the neutral shapes of Minimalism, creating a participatory interaction with the viewer that negates traditional notions of authenticity and ownership. Artists Willys de Castro, Cesar Paternosto and Jo Baer, were grouped once before in Literally Lateral, a project that never took place and that would have placed geography in a purely conceptual realm.

The section titled Insertions is a condensed cluster of experimental works now considered crucial for the expansion of the notion of art. A site-specific work, Gego’s 1969 Reticulárea incorporated the viewer’s phenomenological response to the installation space. Gego continued to cultivate the conceptual framework for the Reticulárea in her later work. The same year, The Fashion Show Poetry Event, a performative event organized by Eduardo Costa, John Perreault and Hannah Weiner, brought artists from Latin America and the United States together on a truly collaborative and innovative enterprise that incorporated conceptual art, design, poetry and performance. Michael Snow’s acoustic piece W in the D, Marta Minujin’s groundbreaking performance Minucode, Juan Downey’s Map of Chile, Domingo Alvarez’ mirrored installation catalogue, and Liliana Porter’s Wrinkle, are included in Insertions, a concept borrowed from Brazi lian artist Cildo Meireles’ proposal for the circulation and exchange of information outside of a centralized entity. These notoriously unconventional works presented at the Americas Society were crucial for the dematerialization of the artwork and contributed to a reconsideration of space and architecture through the practice of site specificity. Additional catalogues, correspondence, photographs and videos document the presence of neo-avant-garde experimentation at the Americas Society.

About the Americas Society’s Cultural Offerings:
Under the artistic direction of Tess O’Dwyer, Vice President for Cultural Affairs and Development, the Americas Society celebrates its 40th anniversary as a cultural showcase for the latest and greatest artistic achievements of the Western Hemisphere. The Society’s programs bridge the vast geographic regions of Canada, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean; cross the genres of Music, Film, Art, and Literature; and, span the historic eras from Pre-Columbian to the modern day. These programs are designed to enhance appreciation and understanding of the current events and cultural riches of the region.

About the Curator:
Beyond Geography was curated by Gabriela Rangel, Visual Arts Director of the Americas Society. Formerly, she served as Assistant Curator for Latin American Art at the International Center for the Arts of the Americas at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, where she helped establish the Department of Latin American Art.

The 40th Anniversary exhibition and other related events are made possible thanks to the generous support from David Rockefeller; Fundación Miguel Alemán A.C.; Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation; Georgia & Michael de Havenon; Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade and Worship – Department of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Argentina in New York; Marcos de Moraes; Jan & Frederick Mayer; Anonymous.

Images: Wifredo Lam, ‘Ceux de la Porte Battante’, 1945, oil on heavy guage canvas, 49-1/2 x 43-1/4 in., Collection of Diane and Bruce Halle; Image from Slidelength, 1969/70, 80 35mm color slides, continuous carousel projection, reproduction courtesy of Michael Snow.

Media Inquiries: Mara Lemos 212-277-8363, / Gemma Martin 212-277-8384,

Americas Society, 680 Park Ave, New York, NY

dal 10/2/2015 al 15/5/2015

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