One of our favorite sayings is “If you wait long enough, everyone comes to New York City.”. Even as a kid, we knew that was just the simple truth: anyone from anywhere converges on the city, tapping into the free-flowing sources of creativity and freedom that makes us something special. It never mattered where you were from, only where you wanted to go, to be, to do.
So, it seems only natural to us that the Americas Society references this mindset of endless possibilities entwined with boundless imagination with This Must Be the Place: Latin American Artists in New York, 1965-1975, a two-part group show beginning this week and featured in our ‘Opening This Week’ section. In it, AS Visual Arts Director and exhibition curator Aimé Iglesias Lukin with assistant curators Mariana Fernández, Tie Jojima, and Natalia Viera Salgado present an exceptional moment in the arts scene of New York, as an influx of artists and political activists fleeing persecution from their home governments used the city as a base to make art and connections. Fully embracing the freedom of NYC’s downtown arts scene, these artists went beyond what was socially and politically permitted in their home countries, exploring questions of identity, geography, politics, and more.
Another aspect of modern Latin American art is also on view now at the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), which features the visual and conceptual dialogue between Argentine and European artists. “From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires curated by Francesca Ferrari, is a small show that ably demonstrates its theme with just fifteen works of art. A particular favorite of ours is Bill’s ‘Unendliche Fläche in Form einer Säule (Endless Surface in Form of a Column), 1953’, a delicate brass work mounted on a wood base. Walking around this geometric sculpture, looking at it from above and below, produces a myriad of color tones and shapes, like a twisting column of flames reaching to the sky. It’s an astonishing work and powerful proof of the emotional connections possible between an audience and concrete art. To learn more, click on our ‘Gallery Shows’ section.
Finally, a second gallery entry in our ‘Opening This Week’ section features Bard Graduate Center’s, Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850-1915, a comprehensive examination of this pottery style first begun in Spain, then altered with simplified glazing and firing technique for the 19th century English and American consumer marketplace. It’s a design form that tends to produce a strong reaction in viewers: those who love it cite the bold colors and shapes, those who hate it list the same qualities. As a matter of fact, the style is still referenced today with designers like Tory Burch, who is working with the noted Palm Beach ceramicist Dodie Thayer to recreate Thayer’s 1960’s lettuce-ware, a direct descendent of majolica’s nature-inspired forms. It’s not as conspicuous as true majolica but still adds a touch of whimsy to the dining table, just like its predecessors did centuries ago.