SOCIETE DES EXPOSITIONS DU PALAIS DES BEAUX-ARTS DE BRUXELLES
Abstraction: The Amerindian Paradigm
Artwork by Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Libero Badii, Helmut Federle, Gonzalo Fonseca, Adolph Gottlieb, Francisco Matto, Louise Nevelson, Alejandro Puente, Eduardo Ramirez Villamizar, Lenore Tawney, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Paul Klee, Barnett Newman, Tony SmText by Cecilia de Torres, Valentin Ferdinan, Mary Frame, Cesar Paternosto, Piet Coessens, Lucy Lippard.
Less familiar strands of the history of modern art are often obscured by the canonical history of Western abstraction. In rethreading them, Abstraction: The Amerindian Paradigm ascertains the unfolding of an abstract art that was born of a cross-fertilization with the indigenous arts of the Americas. The abstract forms that have emerged from practices such as weaving and ceramics, which the West has long deemed "lowly crafts," are reread, challenging the dominant assumption that abstract art is a prerogative of the modern West. The uncompromising geometry and bold colors of ancient Andean weavings--insistently characterized in ethnographic and art historical discourses as decorative--are heralded here as the textile paradigm of abstraction, a grid that precedes by millennia the Western modernist grid. Between the 1920s and 40s, Paul Klee, Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Josef and Anni Albers, Barnett Newman, and Adolph Gottlieb led the way in gazing at the ancient American arts. Later, Louise Nevelson, Alfred Jensen, Mathias Goeritz, Tony Smith, Helmut Federle, and South American artists Libero Badii, Francisco Matto, Gonzalo Fonseca, Eduardo Ramirez Villamizar, Alejandro Puente, and Cesar Paternosto, as well as textile artist Lenore Tawney and poet/artist Cecilia Vicuna, had significant encounters with the Amerindian arts.
In their accompanying essays, Cesar Paternosto focuses on the emergence of an abstraction rooted on the indigenous arts of the Americas; Lucy R. Lippard writes on her experiences while researching the rock art of New Mexico; Mary Frame discusses the cultural resonance of textile structural forms in the ancient Andes; Cecilia de Torres narrates the story of the pioneering trecks to pre-Columbian sites by Torres-Garcia's disciples; and Valentin Ferdinan discusses the formative aspects of modern culture in Latin America.