Cosmopolitan Routes Exhibition Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary of the Latin American Art Department at the MFAH

Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the Latin American art department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the vital collection of art it has amassed in a short time frame. Supported by a collecting community made up of the Founding Members and Latin Maecenas, the MFAH has acquired more than 400 modern and contemporary Latin American artworks and has become a leader in the field. Inspired by the department´s mission to build a high-quality collection, organize groundbreaking exhibitions, uncover new research, and educate diverse audiences about Latin American and Latino art, supporters have accompanied the MFAH´s collecting activities since the department’s inception by both acquiring works for the museum and building their own collections. Cosmopolitan Routes encompasses over 100 works of art—from early modernism and postwar Latin American art to contemporary manifestations—all culled from the private collections of MFAH supporters.

res, Argentinean, born 1957 Chica azul Blue Lady from the Conatus series in collaboration with Constanza Piaggio 2006 Chromogenic print Collection of Gail and Louis Adler © res

On view October 24, 2010 through February 6, 2011, the exhibition is guest curated by Gilbert Vicario, curator at the Des Moines Art Center (and formerly assistant Latin American art curator at MFAH), with support from Mari Carmen Ramírez, MFAH Wortham curator of Latin American art and director of the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), and Elizabeth Cerejido, MFAH assistant curator of Latin American and Latino art. A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, available in February 2011.

“This collecting community did not exist a decade ago,” said Vicario. “Through the cornerstones of education and research the museum has galvanized the support of world-class collectors whose passion for art has benefited the Latin American art department in myriad ways. They in turn have become the greatest champions of the department´s mission. Though it is an international community that extends from Houston to cities throughout South America and Europe, made up of individuals with varying collecting philosophies, the collectors are all dedicated to a common goal and visitors will see a variety of artistic expressions—all Latin American masterworks.”

“The creation of the museum´s Latin American art department would not have been possible without the pioneering vision of the patrons who make up the Latin Maecenas,” said MFAH director Dr. Peter C. Marzio. “These generous individuals took the lead in supporting this under-recognized field, both at the museum and in their own collecting initiatives, and this exhibition will be a great opportunity to see their outstanding, privately held works on public view.”

The majority of the collectors lending Latin American artworks to the MFAH are based in Houston, but a number live at least part-time elsewhere around the world, from Carmel, Miami, New York, and Scottsdale in the United States, to Monterrey, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Caracas, Venezuela; São Paulo, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; and Madrid, Spain.

Diverse artistic expressions represented in the exhibition include the School of the South, Brazil´s Concrete and Neo-Concrete avant-garde movements from the 1940s through the ´60s, figurative and surrealist works, video, photography, and contemporary installations. Work by beloved artists first introduced to many in the 2004 MFAH exhibition Inverted Utopias: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America will be significantly represented—from Joaquín Torres-Garcia and Xul Solar to Julio Alpuy, Luis Benedit, Lygia Clark, Pedro Figari, Gonzalo Fonseca, Gego, Francisco Matto, Luis Felipe Noé, Mira Schendel, Jesús Soto, and Jorge de la Vega. Works by contemporary Latin American and Latino artists using unexpected materials and new media will also be on view, including Magdalena Fernández, Luis Jiménez, Gabriel de la Mora, Oscar Muñoz, Rivane Neuenschwander, and Dario Robleto. Many of these pieces have never been on view outside of the collectors´ homes and will be presented publicly for the first time.

The exhibition also affords MFAH visitors the chance to see some major masterpieces. On loan from Houston-based collector Marilyn Oshman is Moses (1945) by Frida Kahlo: an ambitious and detailed painting illustrating a multicultural pantheon of political and spiritual heroes within a startling, trompe l´oeil depiction of a human skull. The influential artist and theorist Joaquin Torres-Garcia´s Symmetric Composition #525 in Red (1932), with its vocabulary of pictographic symbols that harmoniously balance intellectual, emotional, and earthly elements, is from the collection of Cornelia and Meredith Long. Hélio Oiticica, who is acknowledged as one of the most important and groundbreaking contemporary Latin American artists, is represented through his iconic metaesquemas, which have been acquired by several Houston collectors. Outstanding works by Wifredo Lam, Emilio Pettoruti and Diego Rivera, from the Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art on long-term loan to the MFAH, will be shown to Houston audiences for the first time.

Additionally, important works by internationally-recognized, contemporary Latin American artists will be prominently featured. For the first time at the MFAH, the work of Peruvian conceptual artist Fernando Bryce, Argentine painter Guillermo Kuitca, Brazilian multi-media artist Vik Muniz, Brazilian installation artist Ernesto Neto, and Colombian sculptor Doris Salcedo will be shown together, creating unexpected dialogues and juxtapositions with works from their historical predecessors.

MFAH Collections and Campus
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers nearly 63,000 works and embraces the art of antiquity to the present. Featured are the finest artistic examples of the major civilizations of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa. Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, photographs, American and European decorative arts, African and Pre-Columbian gold, American art, and European and American paintings and sculpture from post-1945 are particularly strong holdings. The MFAH collections are presented in six locations that make up the institutional complex. Together, these facilities provide a total of 300,000 square feet of space dedicated to the display of art. The MFAH comprises two major museum buildings, the Caroline Wiess Law Building, designed by Mies van der Rohe, and the Audrey Jones Beck Building, designed by Rafael Moneo; the Glassell School of Art; two house museums, Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens, featuring American art and decorative arts, and Rienzi, featuring European art and decorative arts; and the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi and home to modern and contemporary sculpture.

General Information
For museum information, the public can visit www.mfah.org or call 713-639-7300

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