HOUSTON, TX.- Inventive works by some of the most significant Latin American artists of the 20th century and those showing promise for the 21st century are presented in Contructing a Poetic Universe: The Diane and Bruce Halle Collection of Latin American Art, opening March 11, 2007 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The exhibition, guest curated by Beverly Adams, curator of the Diane and Bruce Halle Collection, features nearly 60 works from 1945 to 2005 that incorporate such unusual media as cow bladder, ficus root, vinyl mattresses, and sea sponges. Among the major artists represented are Gego, Felix González-Torres, Guillermo Kuitca, Ana Mendieta, Mira Schendel, and Tunga. The exhibition will be on view through June 10, 2007 in the museum´s Audrey Jones Beck Building, 5601 Main Street.
The Halle Collection, comprising approximately 300 objects, is considered one of the finest American-owned private collections dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. The Halles´ definition of Latin American artists includes those born in Latin America now working in the United States and Europe and those born in the United States and Europe now working in Latin America. The majority of the works in the collection are painting and sculpture, but installation, drawing, photography, and video and film are well represented. The exhibition at the MFAH mirrors the collection´s strengths, featuring primarily paintings and sculptures, with several works in other media.
"The museum is grateful to Diane and Bruce Halle for sharing these works from their extraordinary collection," said Peter C. Marzio, MFAH director. "Such generosity allows the museum to continue to expand the recognition of Latin American art and artists in the United States, and to delineate the role of Latin American art in modern and contemporary art worldwide."
Contemporary works and those by modern masters are grouped in the exhibition to address four broad ideas exploring performative aspects of the visual arts: introspection and identity; social studies; visuality and experience; and the creation of poetic universes. Selected works by major Latin American artists introduce each section as departure points for consideration of contemporary issues.
"The arrangement creates a cross-generational and international dialogue between works that engage in similar conceptual practice and thematic explorations, albeit to strikingly different ends," said Gilbert Vicario, assistant curator of Latin American art at the MFAH, who is co-curating A Poetic Universe with Beverly Adams. "Over all, this exhibition celebrates the great diversity of artistic production in Latin America."
Nearly two-thirds of the works are from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Media include paintings, works on paper, metal, wood, photography, and DVD recordings. Many of the works project a certain theatricality through dramatic presentation or extravagant choice of materials.
Thomas Glassford´s Nine Slate Mirror (2001) traps 36 warped images in strips of Plexiglas mirror attached in an undulating over-and-under manner to a frame of anodized aluminum. The effect is an ever-changing abstract reflection. Two dimensions look three-dimensional in Guillermo Kuitca´s 1993 charcoal and acrylic painting, Catalano I. The work resembles an aerial view of some strange multi-venue performance center with stadium seating and other points of interest neatly detailed. Among the works by Tunga on view is Exogenous Axis (Cordelia), (1990) a six-foot wood sculpture topped with a metal chalice. The elongated, figural shape sits on a spool-like pedestal, carrying its metal piece on its inverted triangular "head."
As for the works featuring unusual media, there´s Kuitca´s Sin titulo [Untitled] (1989), an oil painting on vinyl mattresses; Tunga´s Bell´s Falls (1998), an assemblage of wood, nets, blown glass, sea sponges, and mixed media; Ana Mendieta´s Tallus Mater (1982), a ficus root/polymer sculpture; and Doris Salcedo´s Atrabiliarios (Defiant) (1992-1993) made from drywall, shoes, cow bladder, and surgical thread.
Catalogue - A fully illustrated 200-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. The book features an introduction by the Halles about their collecting goals and essays by Mari Carmen Ramìrez, the Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at the MFAH; Beverly Adams, curator of the Diane and Bruce Halle Collection; Osvaldo Sanchez, artistic director of InSite05; and Gilbert Vicario, assistant curator of Latin American art at the MFAH. It will be available in the MFAH Shops, 713-639-7360.
Organizer and Sponsors - Constructing a Poetic Universe: Tthe Diane and Bruce Halle Collection of Latin American Art is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.