Armando Reverón (1889-1954)
- Armando Reverón
- signed and dated 1937 lower right
- 40 3/4 by 26 3/8 in.
- (103.6 by 67 cm)
Mercedes Baumister de Otero Silva, Caracas
Private Collection, Caracas
Sale: Christie's, New York, Latin American Art, November 22, 1999, lot 24, illustrated in color
Mexico City, Museo Rufino Tamayo; Monterrey, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo MARCO, Armando Reverón: La mágica solar, Venezuela en México, September, 1988-January, 1989, p. 50, no. 22
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In his recent essay on Georges Seurat's drawings, Richard Shiff wrote "In his art, we see the image; but we simultaneously become distracted by the material 'stuff' (as I believe he did). It is good to be reminded of the stuff: the texture, the grain, the viscosity, the density, the physicality of the medium, even when it all assumes the form of an electronic flow."1 Further down Shiff discusses a certain Chuck Close drawing made with Conté crayon on heavy paper: "He wants his viewer to see not only the convincing illusion, the image, but also 'the stuff that makes it.' The viewer should be attracted to the one as well as to the other--that is, distracted by the one as well as the other. When the situation of attraction/distraction equalizes, the medium is either reaching the extreme of its potential or (what is the same) failing."2
Something of similar nature happens with the 1930s paintings by Armando Reverón whose works, coincidentally, were hanging in the same galleries as Seurat's drawings at MoMA in 2007. After a "fluid" period of gouaches on paper earlier in the decade, Reverón set his preferences for more corporeal, tactile surfaces: he would work on burlap canvases which offered resistance to the brush and would determine the character of the final product. As Alfredo Boulton recalled: "He asked me to send him rolls of rough burlap, that was the quality he preferred.../. . . In this way, his palette suffered an evolution that turned the color of the canvas to be its principal value."3
In this seated nude we find a compelling example of the ways Reverón created this image from the sepia canvas: by nervously adding and scraping color in order to eliminate edges between the body and inert matter; by adding convenient "back up" shadows and by lightening these obscure zones with intense flashes of white. He further energized the composition by altering the direction of the strokes in order to add vibrancy to the fore and background. The figure flows diagonally with much grace; its uninterrupted cascading rhythm brilliantly animates this otherwise tectonic figure in repose. The painting has attained its full potential: it both shows the convincing illusion of a monumental female nude and it shows the stuff it was made with.
In his inaugural speech at the Museo de Bellas Artes´ first Reverón retrospective exhibition (1955), writer, journalist and distinguished collector Miguel Otero Silva, the first owner of this painting, thought about the artist's late 1930s paintings in a more lyrical tone: "Reverón´s palette was white while he was fighting to discover the profound mysteries of the blinding light of La Guaira. But when his heart came back from that journey to the core of the sun, when the hand in his heart was pointing to the Human and to the Earth (his own figure: man; Juanita, his companion: woman; his living muñecas: people; a naked "mulata": the earth), it resulted in torrents of sepia in his palette, his command in creating volumes were dedicated to his dark skinned models and the expression with the use of lines bothered him more than [creating] vibrating atmospheres."4
1 See Richard Shiff, Georges Seurat, The Drawings (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007), p. 28.
2 Richard Shiff, p. 29.
3 Alfredo Boulton, "Armando Reverón o la voluptuosidad de la pintura" in Armando Reverón, 10 Ensayos, ed. Juan Calzadilla (Caracas: Consejo Municipal del Distrito Federal, 1975), p. 60.
4 Miguel Otero Silva, "Conferencia pronunciada en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas el 28 de julio de 1955," in Armando Reverón, p. 75.