Welcome to the third and final part of our Radical Geometry roundup. Unlike their counterparts from further south, the group of Venezuelan artists we will introduce below did not embrace political or psychological notions with their works, but instead chose to create art that experimented with optics and physics to engage its viewers. The abstract art movement in Venezuela was greatly influenced by the Ciudad Universitaria project conceived by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva. Built between 1940 & 1960, and now a recognized UNESCO heritage site, the ambitious university campus integrated murals, sculptures, and other art forms throughout its many buildings.
Jesús Soto and Alejandro Otero (who were both part of “Los Disidentes”), as well as Carlos Cruz-Diez have been three of the most influential Venezuelan artists to emerge from this period. The first two banded together while residing in Paris and alongside other Venezuelan artists subscribed to the “Manifiesto No”, which sought to criticize the state of art academia in their home country while at the same time promoting abstractionism as a viable way forward. Cruz-Diez, who also lived in Paris at the time, became one of the biggest exponents of kinetic and op art worldwide. The common thread in the work of all three artists became the use of movement, instability, and the viewer’s body as creative materials.
Another highly influential artists during the 1950s was German-born Gego aka Gertrude Goldschmidt. Using wire and found objects, she created ghost-like structures that resembled three dimensional drawings suspended in air. Unlike the aforementioned trio of artists who embraced kinetic art as their preferred style, Gego rejected technology as a component of her works and instead resorted to a more deconstructive approach.
We hope you enjoyed our Radical Geometry roundup. You can catch Part 1 (Uruguay & Argentina) and Part 2 (Brasil) for further reading materials on the subject of abstraction in South America. We still strongly suggest you catch the exhibition at the Royal Academy, which is on until September 28th. If you’re unable to attend, we recommend getting ahold of the exhibition’s official book right here.