In the 60s four artists with different backgrounds and aspirations found their space and marked Venezuelan art.
Art pioneers in Venezuela
Gego, Luisa Palacios, Maruja Rolando and Marisol Escobar are all part of the same period of Venezuelan art, the 50s and 60s when the country, like others in Latin America, saw a boom in industrialisation and modernisation. There was an abundance of resources and attention directed to urban planning with leading architects and artists called for the job.
On the other side, it was also a moment of political instability with growing social tensions, particularly in the second part of the 60s with many dictatorships taking place around the continent. It was in this context that these four women developed their avant-garde art and opened the way for a new generation of women artists in Venezuela.
Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt better known as Gego was born in Germany but fled to Venezuela after the ascension of nazism. With studies in Architecture and Engineering, she started her artistic career around 1953 and her geometric drawing and printings became associated with the influential movement of Kinectic art.
Later Gego expanded her creative vision moving in other directions and around 1969 started to create sculptures and installations with a variety of materials, including stainless steel wires of her “Reticulárea” series.
Gego received international recognition, her works being exhibited across the globe and taking part in many important museum collections. This October museum Jumex (Ciudad de Mexico) will show a survey of her work.
To know more:
Visit Gego’s official website with full biography, a list of exhibitions and photos. In Spanish and English. https://gegoartista.com/
Palacios is a central figure of printmaking in Venezuela. She grew up exposed to art and studied ceramics, drawing and painting from an early age. But what drove her to pursue the graphic arts was a Goya exhibition in Madrid that showed his engravings.
Fascinated by the medium’s possibilities the artist began to explore prints which leads to the creation of “El Taller” in 1960. In the space, a group of artists would experiment and explore graphic techniques that pushed Venezuelan graphic arts forward. “El Taller” also worked like a workshop with ceramic and sculpture being produced by other artists. Soon it became a meeting point for the intellectuals of Caracas.
Although Luisa Palacios didn’t find international acclaim, she was awarded numerous prizes in printmaking and her work continues to be exhibited and celebrated in her country.
To know more:
Watch Luisa Palacios talking about the beginning of “El Taller”. In Spanish.
Associated with the Informalist movement, Maruja Rolando created her most famed paintings and collages innovating in the use of different materials. She started her career influenced by abstract geometry and expressionism but later searched for a more experimental approach to art-making.
In the 60s Rolando was determined not to follow any particular set of rules so she combined her interests in materials and textures and explored new possibilities for her work. She also took part in “El Taller” guided by Luisa Palacios and produced a big quantity of prints exploring various techniques.
Unfortunately, the artist had a brief career, interrupted by a car accident in 1970. Her work continues to be relevant and exhibited in Venezuela.
To know more:
Learn about the Informalist Movement: https://artishockrevista.com/2019/01/07/contesting-modernity-informalismo-venezuela/. In Spanish.
Better known as just Marisol, this Venezuelan born in Paris, comes from an affluent family and was educated in Europe and in the US. In fact, she lived most of her life outside Venezuela. In 1950 she established herself in New York and started to paint influenced mainly by Abstract Expressionism. She did however preferred sculpture to paint and initiated to work with wood.
Marisol was friends with all the art circles in the city, including Andy Warhol, appearing in his early films and kick-starting Pop Art. Her woody boxy figures assembled together made social comments full of irony. The role of family, famous faces and brands were all questioned in her work.
At the time she was more celebrated for her looks than her art, but finally, she is getting more attention in the last few years with exhibitions around the US.
To know more:
Visit the exhibition “Marisol and Warhol take New York” at the Pérez art museum Miami! If you’re not in Miami (like me), check the museum website. In Spanish and English. https://www.pamm.org/en/exhibition/marisol-and-warhol-take-new-york/
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