SOURCE: Americas Society/Council of the Americas

Americas Society/Council of the Americas

December 16, 2014 08:00 ET

Unique Exhibition at Americas Society to Offer Rare Glimpse Into World of Latin American Modern Design

Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978; on View at Americas Society February 11 Through May 16, 2015

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - December 16, 2014) -

Guest Curators Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos, Ana Elena Mallet, Jorge Rivas Pérez

Press Preview and Reception: Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 5:00 p.m.

Latin American modern design in the mid-20th-century, one of the region's most innovative chapters, is the focus of Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978, on view at Americas Society February 11 to May 16, 2015 in New York City. Guest curated by Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos, Ana Elena Mallet, and Jorge Rivas Pérez and accompanied by a fully illustrated hardcover catalogue (Ed. Santillana) and a one-day-international symposium, the exhibition features for the first time a body of artwork that reflects the dialogue and the complexity in the creation of modern interiors in Latin America at a time of rapid modernization.

Looking into the tradition of craftsman design and documenting the transition from craftsmanship to industry, Moderno brings together around 80 pieces of one-of-a-kind and mass-produced household objects including furniture, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, and printed material, the majority of which has never been exhibited before. It provides a transversal reading of the domestic design landscape across countries and a window into the mind of designers creating living environments that were influential as well as influenced by international modern design.

"This exhibition shows that by the mid-20th century, Latin American designers were aware of the international developments in architecture and design but at the same time were creating living environments in accordance with the cultural customs of the individuals using them," says co-curator Jorge Rivas Pérez, a Venezuelan design historian and designer. "In a radical departure from post-colonial notions, designers in the region were producing a modern interior that was at the same time local and global."

Sheltered from the overall destruction of World War II, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela entered an expansive period of economic growth in the late 1940s and 1950s, which resulted in the modernization of the city and the extended application of international visual vocabularies. Although each country had unique social, political, and economic specificities, modernization was fervently embraced as a vehicle for progress, and design was endorsed as an agent for development. Under these conditions, change started at home, and the domestic environment became a laboratory for experimenting with modern ideas.

"The concept of sustainability was coined in the 1970s, but the relationship between material and environment is a thread pioneered by Latin American designers since the early 1940s. They had a dialogue with international traditions but also developed their own language," explains co-curator Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos, philosopher and tenured professor at the University of São Paulo´s School of Architecture and Urbanism. "In this exhibition we show the power of the domestic landscape in Latin America from the perspective of three countries, looking with fresh eyes and learning from the real voices of designers about the ideas of modernization that took place in the continent."

Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978 features objects by designers Miguel Arroyo (1920-2004), Michael Van Beuren (1911-2004), Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998), José Carlos Bornancini (1923-2008), José Zanine Caldas (1918-2001), Los Castillo (f. 1934), Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt, 1912-1984), Cristina Merchán (1926-1987), Clara Porset (1932-1981), Nelson Ivan Petzold (b. 1931), Sergio Rodrigues (1927-2014), Cynthia Sargent (1922-2006), William Spratling (1900-1967), Don Shoemaker (1912-1990), Joaquim Tenreiro (1906-1992), Felix Tissot (1909-1989, Tecla Tofano (1927-1995), Pedro Ramirez Vásquez (1919-2013), María Luisa Zuloaga de Tovar (1902-1992), Seka Severin de Tudja (1923-2007), Cornelis Zitman (b. 1926), and Jorge Zalszupin (b. 1922). 

"Design and photography have been the blind spots of Latin American modernisms as they were systematically excluded from survey shows on the avant-gardes in the last decade. Moderno is an overdue case study approach of the central role of design, as a laboratory for ideas of progress and social engineering that shaped processes of modernization in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela in the post war," says Americas Society Chief Curator and Visual Arts Director Gabriela Rangel.

Drawn from public and private collections, designers' archives, and family foundations, Moderno also explores the significant role of women in modern design in Latin America, and discusses developmental policies and political imperatives that impacted design and its mechanisms of distribution. "In post-revolutionary Mexico design was a state project, a way to incorporate the indigenous population into the system, either psychically or symbolically," says co-curator Ana Elena Mallet, Mexican independent writer and curator specialized in contemporary art and design. "The tension between traditional and contemporary design is present in Mexico's design throughout the entire 20th century."

Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978, is accompanied by an extensive illustrated catalogue which includes essays by the guest curators, Luis Castañeda, Lourdes Blanco Fombona, Gabriela Rangel, and Christina De León as well as unpublished documents and photographs on visual culture and design from Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela from the 1940s to the 1960s. 

A one-day international symposium organized by the department of Visual Arts at Americas Society in collaboration with the guest curators will be held on February 12, 2015, featuring prestigious scholars in the fields of design and architecture such as Zeuler Lima, Patricio del Real, and Luis Castañeda, and the contemporary artist Jill Magit. The symposium will examine modern Latin American design within a global context, debating the role of the domestic space as a place to project new aesthetic ideas that made visible the emergence of a professional class with democratic aspirations. A series of public programs, including guided tours and panel discussions will provide general audiences with a deeper insight on the topics explored in the exhibition. Bauhaus and Modern Mexico. Design by Van Beuren, a publication by Ana Elena Mallet (Arquine, Mexico City, 2014) with a contribution by Barry Bergdoll will be presented at the symposium. Brazilian Modern Furniture, a book by Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santos (Olhares, São Paulo, 2015) will be also presented. Following its staging at Americas Society in New York City, the exhibition will travel to other venues in the United States and abroad, including the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas.

The exhibition Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela, 1940-1978 is made possible by the generous support of PRISA/Santillana USA; Mercantil; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (SRE/AMEXCID), The National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA), the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) and the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York; Jaime and Raquel Gilinski; Mex-Am Cultural Foundation; Grupo DIARQ; Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund; Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros; and Hotel Americano.

The exhibition is also supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council of the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Image Credit: Joaquim Tenreiro (Brazilian, 1906-92). Three-legged chair, ca. 1947. Wood, 70 x 54.5 x 60 cm (27.5 x 22 x 24 in.) Collection: R & Company, New York.

Read more information about the exhibition here: http://www.as-coa.org/moderno-design-living-brazil-mexico-and-venezuela-1940%E2%80%931978#overview

PUBLIC PROGRAMS

PRESS PREVIEW

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

5:00 p.m.

Guest Curators Maria Cecilia Loschiavo, Ana Elena Mallet, and Jorge Rivas will host the media and will be available for interviews. A VIP opening and reception will follow.

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street

New York, NY 10065

Free admission

GENERAL OPENING

Wednesday February 11, 2015

7:00 p.m.

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street

New York, NY 10065

Free admission

ON VIEW

February 11 - May 16, 2015

Gallery hours:

Wednesday to Saturday

12:00 m. - 6:00 p.m.

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street

New York, NY 10065

Free admission

SYMPOSIUM: THE INVENTION OF THE MODERN DOMESTIC SPACE IN LATIN AMERICA: DESIGN, ART, AND ARCHITECTURE, 1940-1978

Thursday, February 12, 2015

11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Location to be confirmed

Free admission

In this one-day international symposium panelists will discuss the current state of Latin American design, the influence of the home on the field, and case studies on exciting design initiatives in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela. Symposium speakers will include Luis Castañeda, Pat Kirkham, Zeuler Lima, Maria Cecilia Loschiavo, Ana Elena Mallet, Rodrigo Queiroz, Americas Society's Gabriela Rangel, Patricio del Real, and Jorge Rivas.

EXHIBITION TOUR

Tuesday, March 17

6:30 p.m.

Guest Curator Jorge Rivas will lead a guided tour of the exhibition.

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street

New York, NY 10065

Free for members

$10 for non-members

EXHIBITION TOUR

Tuesday, April 16

6:30 p.m.

Guest Curator Jorge Rivas will lead a guided tour of the exhibition.

Americas Society

680 Park Avenue at 68th Street

New York, NY 10065

Free for members

$10 for non-members

Americas Society is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship. Americas Society Visual Arts program boasts the longest-standing private space in the U.S. dedicated to exhibiting and promoting art from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada; it has achieved a unique and renowned leadership position in the field, producing both historical and contemporary exhibitions.

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