June 11, 2004 - Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) - INVERTED UTOPIAS
June 11, 2004


INVERTED UTOPIAS: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America
20 June - 12 September 2004

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet
Houston, TX 77005


For information call 713-639-7540 or e-mail at pr [​at​] mfah.org

INVERTED UTOPIAS is the first large-scale exhibition to focus on the emergence and development of avant-garde art in Latin America between 1920 and 1970. In this fifty-year period, artists from Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean carried on an extensive dialogue with the prevailing currents of European and North American Modernism. The result was a profound assimilation and simultaneous inversion of the tenets of the Old World movements into highly innovative artistic proposals that set new standards for artistic production in the region. A salient trait of these movements was their belief in art as a form of utopia that should serve as a model for a new society.

The exhibition will bring together more than 200 works by 67 artists and artists’ groups from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The show integrates outstanding examples of visual arts production (painting, sculpture, assemblage, mixed media works, and installations) with printed materials (books, manifestoes, reviews) that complemented the avant-garde manifestations of the artists and groups under consideration. In each case, the selection criteria focused on artists who carried the notion of art into a new utopian or practical dimension.

Despite its broad scope, INVERTED UTOPIAS is neither a historic nor a geographic survey. Instead, the show is organized in six constellations that highlight some ideological, formal or thematic features of the New World avant-garde artistic production. Each constellation represents an open, flexible, and porous category capable of bringing together in one space a broad diversity of artists and works belonging to different time periods or geographic locales. The six constellations include: UNIVERSAL AND VERNACULAR; VIBRATIONAL AND STATIONARY; GEOMETRY AND CONCRETE; PLAY AND GRIEF; TOUCH AND GAZE; AND CRYPTIC AND COMMITTED.

The exhibition will be complemented by a 616 page English catalogue that can be purchased at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston bookstore. The catalogue will include:
Twenty-one interpretive essays by the exhibition curators as well as eleven leading critics from Latin America, Europe, and the United States
A selection of ninety documents in the form of manifestoes and theoretical writings by the artists and groups represented in the exhibition. With very few exceptions, these texts never circulated beyond the periodicals or books where they were originally published and have never been translated into English.
Biographical information on the artists.
Color reproductions of the approximately 250 works (and documents) in the exhibition.
Over 200 black and white period photographs.

On Saturday June 19th at 9:30 in Brown Auditorium inside the Caroline Wiess Law Building Inverted Utopias: The Symposium will be held to contextualize some of the key artists and movements included in the exhibition whose production upends conventional readings of Modernism. Speakers include Latin American critics and their Anglo-American counterparts. The aim is to promote a much needed intellectual dialogue across continents and disciplines that will significantly expand the framework for understanding the complex contribution of Latin American artists to 20th century art. Admittance to The Symposium is free with a museum admission and open to the public.

Press making inquiries should contact the public relations department at
713-639-7540 or e-mail at pr@mfah.org

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Generous funding is provided by:

Continental Airlines, The Favrot Fund, Altria Group, Inc., Rockwell Fund, The Wortham Foundation, Inc., Deloitte & Touche, Goldman Sachs & Company, The Boeing Company, Christie’s, The Corporate Partners of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Generous funding for Inverted Utopias: The Symposium is provided by Fulbright & Jaworski and Christie’s.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
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