"Great art from around the world" and "Free and open to all" are the translations of the two messages that literally integrate the facade of the Tate Modern London, inscribed in its glass windows, inviting those who walk along the south bank of the River Thames, in the Southwark area. It is enough to contemplate such a large construction (originally the headquarters of the Bankside power plant and which since 2000 houses the British National Museum of Modern Art, better known as Tate Modern in honor of Henry Tate and his generous donations) to understand that the first motto, however ambitious it may seem, is more than viable.
And, finally, verifiable if you enter the museum and tour its numerous rooms, which include works by some of the most recognized Latin American artists as well as other continents, produced throughout the twentieth century and today, covering movements such as post-impressionism, avant-garde, abstract expressionism, pop art, kinetic, optical, conceptual, performance and facilities. As for the second message, it is partially true since, with the exception of permanent exhibitions that have a cost, the rest of the museum spaces such as the rooms that house the permanent collection, the turbine room and the terrace with its gazebo , is accessed without charge, thus taking distance from the preconcept that usually associates museums with sites of and for elites.
“Tate, which has a single collection shared among all the group's museums [conformado por Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool y Tate St. Ives], dispose of approximately 400 works by Latin American artists. The majority was acquired through the Latin American Procurement Committee, which it was the first procurement committee dedicated to a specific region that Tate had, created in 2002 and that contributed to expanding our international art possessions as well as providing specialized advice, ”he says Valentina Ravaglia, curator of international art exhibitions at Tate Modern, to Infobae Culture in an interview conducted via mail. And he adds that Of the 500 works in the collection currently on display, 64 were made by Latin American artists, that is, almost 13 percent.
In that list, very rich in nationalities and styles, are artists of the stature of Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, maximum exponents of Mexican muralism, the Argentines Leonor Fini, Mirtha Dermisache and Nicolás García Uriburu, the Cuban guy Wifredo Lam, the Chilean Roberto Mattathe Uruguayan Carmelo Arden Quin, the Polish-Brazilian Felícia Leirner, and Mira Schendel, Lygia Clark, Sérgio de Camargo and Hélio Oiticica from Brazil. At the level of the current contemporary scene, you can witness works by the Swiss-Brazilian photographer Claudia Andujar, of the Brazilians Anna Bella Geiger and Cildo Meireles, from Regina José Galindo from Guatemala and from Doris Salcedo from Colombia, from the Mexican Damián Ortega, of the Chileans Paz Errázuriz and Eugenio Dittborn, from Allora & Calzadilla from Puerto Rico, and from the Argentines Liliana Porter, Judi Werthein and Horacio Zabala [worksd[obrasde Marta Minujín, Carla Zaccagnini, Horacio Coppola, Lucio Fontana, León Ferrari, David Lamelas, Carlos Ginzburg and Guillermo Kuitca they are also part of the museum's collection but are currently not on display].
Currently the Tate Modern collection is organized in several modules according to various curatorial criteria; Thus, Latin American artists and their works are grouped in some cases by movements but also by themes and / or geographies. As with A view from, a series of exhibitions that highlights the artistic innovations that were occurring at specific times in various cities such as Buenos Aires and San Pablo, among others. The room dedicated to the capital of Buenos Aires brings together works by artists linked to the CAyC (Center for Art and Communication), an interdisciplinary group promoted by Jorge Glusberg In 1969, around the art of systems, a type of conceptual art focused on examining how ideas and images circulated in society and culture, particularly through the media.
Wrinkle (1968) of Liliana Porter It is one of the works proposed in the selection: composed of ten photogravures, this sequence in which the progression of the wrinkle of a leaf is observed, reveals problems linked to the concepts of time and representation, recurring in the subsequent works of the artist based in New York. A series of six drawings, without title, of Mirtha Dermisache. Produced in 1970, what at first glance seems to be a group of handmade letters, by the arrangement of the signs on the paper as well as by the use of black ink, are actually graphics through which the visual artist explored the writing asemic (without a specific meaning). He died in 2012, his creative work (which received praise from personalities such as Roland Barthes), delves into the notions of readability, understanding, circulation and reception.
A view from San Pablo: abstraction and society puts the focus on the works of geometric abstraction that from the fifties developed young Brazilian artists such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Pape; in the background, some works of pioneers of abstract art are included as Vasili Kandinsky. “They adopted an approach to art impregnated with political idealism. By rejecting the past and adopting new forms, abstraction was associated with ideas of social change, ”he says. Matthew Gale in the curatorial text of the exhibition, about the work of Brazilian painters and sculptors. Also, a painting by the Uruguayan painter and sculptor is exhibited Carmelo Arden Quin, the leading exponent of innovations in the field of abstract art in Rioja land, and one of the founders of the Madí group in 1946. In Carres (1951), made of lacquer on wood, the transgression of the traditional configuration of the painting is evidenced through the use of the polygonal framework, one of the resources that the artist born in Rivera incorporated into his artistic work in the mid-forties.
Co-founder along with Oiticica of the Neoconcreto Movement, Clark was born in Belo Horizonte in 1920, was a cubist student Fernand Léger and developed his artistic work mostly in Rio de Janeiro and Paris. His first creative stage was dedicated to the exploration of geometric shapes. The works that followed, however, which he made since the mid-fifties and, especially during the sixties, reflect new artistic concerns but, above all, a new way of understanding the aesthetic fact, as a living experience, fundamentally sensory, for the which the active role of the viewer was decisive. Plans in modulated surface (studio) (61) (1957), is a work that could well be considered as a transition between the two phases. Made with graphite and tempera on paper, it investigates the possible relationships between planes, lines and abstract shapes, which ends up creating the illusion of three-dimensional spaces on a flat surface. Many scholars of Clark's work see this and other drawings of the same series as precursors of his acquaintance Bugs, a clear example of his second artistic phase, and which consists of a set of geometric hinged aluminum sculptures, conceived by the artist to be manipulated by the spectators who, through their hands, would endow them in multiple ways.
Another module of the collection is International surrealism, which has a selection of works that reflect the origins of this artistic avant-garde in the Paris of the twenties through its main exponents, as well as works that account for the subsequent repercussions and reappropriations of surrealism on the other side of the Atlantic. In this way, work is located throughout the room Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and René Magritte but also from those who from Latin America read under their own magnifying glass to this current that came from the old continent and was inspired by the ideas of Sigmund Freud. It is the case of La Vertu noire (1943) of Roberto Matta, Petit Sphinx hermite (1948) of Leonor Fini, Ibaye (1950) of Wifredo Lam and Do you know my aunt Liza? (1941) and Transfer (1963), both of the English nationalized Mexican Leonora Carrington.
“He loved cats and used the image of the sphinx (a mythological hybrid of a lion and a woman), to a large extent, as a self-portrait. He considered this figure as a symbolic intermediary between the human and animal kingdoms, and between the conscious and unexplored areas of mind and spirit. In this painting the sphinx appears as a domesticated, childlike creature, sitting in front of its ramshackle house. However, the bird's skull at its feet and the organ that hangs on the door hint acts of violence, ”says the legend next to the painting, Petit Sphinx hermite (1948). Although Fini was born in Buenos Aires, he developed his artistic work in Italy and France. Dalí's friend, Max Ernst (with whom he maintained an affair) and Jean Cocteau and owner of a restless and versatile spirit, also served as a costume designer and stage sets, illustrator and novelist.
This work of Roberto Matta (composed of three canvases united and painted in oil) that hangs on one of the very many walls of the Tate Modern, reflects the surreal principles of automatism and free association of ideas by presenting contradictory elements. On the one hand, the canvases on the sides show abstract forms while in the central part of the triptych the forms become more biomorphic, some of which refer to the shape of the female sexual organs. As critics of his work suggest, this painting by the artist born in Santiago de Chile could be thought of as a combination of scenes of war, violence and death, but also of eroticism.
“The museums of modern and contemporary art seek to make visible the art of other parts of the world but the dominant narratives are still those established by the canon. Tate makes better efforts in relation to addressing simultaneities rather than genealogies. Moma [Museum of Modern Art]On the other hand, he continues to insist on the idea of modern art that expands to other geographies, the story of modern art is there ”, he observes Andrea Giunta, art historian, researcher and teacher at the University of Buenos Aires.
Just as this surrealism module alludes greatly to the question of the artistic canon that the specialist points out, it could be thought of as an attempt to address parallels rather than track inheritances, the Materials and objects. With the axis set in the exploration of substances, forms and textures, in this room coexist without hierarchies pieces of the most dissimilar in time and space as the most famous creation of Marcel Duchamp, the ready-made Fountain (1917) – in fact, one of the replicas authorized by the artist decades later, when the original urinal trail was lost – with some early sculptures of Doris Salcedo, carried out in the eighties and characterized by the use of furniture and objects of daily life, to evoke violence in their country, Medellin especially, at that time the epicenter of the drug business.
Contemporary art: thing of the present
In the hectic times that the United Kingdom lives because of Brexit, the show that revolves around Jump (2005) of Judi Werthein, included in Performer and participant, is especially significant. Conceived by the Argentine artist based in Miami to reflect on the issue of immigration but above all as a gesture of support for migrants, it consisted of the design and creation of a pair of slippers, which were then distributed without charge between those with the intention of crossing the border in Tijuana to the United States, and in turn, sold for $ 200 in the city of San Diego, donating the proceeds to a refugee center. The installation proposed by Tate based on the Werthein project also includes projections and records of the repercussions it had on the media, as well as the reactions it provoked in the public in the form of mails and messages.
As Giunta warns, “contemporary art museums attend to the urgent problems of the present and, undoubtedly, immigration, the Mediterranean holocaust, is a problem for Europe and the United States, so there are numerous exhibitions that map the subject. There are positions of position on the part of the institutions ”. Ravaglia, responsible for curating the exhibition around Brinco, reinforces this idea by expressing that “Tate is committed to the representation of artistic practices that reflect on past and present social issues. Migration is a pressing issue, one that has been directly shaping political discourse in the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as in the United States in recent years. ” And he adds that from the museum they hope that “Brinco can add nuances to a debate that is often carried out at the level of gross generalizations and that is obsessed with the treatment of certain symptoms while ignoring the complex network of underlying socio-economic causes”.