Two Powerhouse Female Artists from Latin America

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Launch Slideshow

Women artists have long been powerful influencers throughout the most significant art historic movements of the 20th Century. The list is lengthy: from Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington’s vital roles in expanding the Surrealist narrative; Georgia O’Keeffe’s impact on defining the trajectory of American Modernism; to Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Agnes Martin’s contributions to Post-War Abstraction. This May, the inaugural Online sale of Latin America: Contemporary Art will showcase the works of two powerhouse women artists: the internationally celebrated German-Venezuelan, Gego, and the relatively little-known Argentine painter, Sarah Grilo.

Latin America: Contemporary Art Online
Through 26 May | Online

Two Powerhouse Female Artists from Latin America

  • Gego in her Caracas home
    Gertrud Goldschmidt: The Engineer & Architect
    Born as Gertrud Goldschmidt in Hamburg, Germany in 1912 to a prominent, banking family, Gego (as she would be called) studied architecture and engineering at the Stuttgart Technical School. Gego’s studies would be influential in defining her artistic pursuits and the eventual evolution of her entire body of work: meticulous sculptural constructions energized with a quiet grace unique to Gego.

  • Aerial View of Caracas circa 1938
    Caracas: Gego’s Ground Zero
    Upon completing her University studies in 1938, Gego would flee Germany as a result of the prevailing Nazi tendencies consuming the European continent. At the age of 28, she would find herself in Caracas, Venezuela. It is here, where Gego would produce some of the most drastically radical works of Modern 20th-century art. She would travel to New York with frequency, encountering the sculptures of American artist Richard Lippold, while also studying and embracing the principles of Constructivism and the Bauhaus. Using industrial materials such as sheet metal, wire and nylon ropes, her most seminal and revered series of sculptural, three-dimensional objects would emerge: Reticuláreas (1969); Troncos y Esferas (mid-1970s); Dibujos sin papel (late-1970s/early 1980s).

  • Gego, Tejedura 90/48, 1990. Estimate $18,000–22,000.
    In 1988, Gego embarked upon a new series known as the Tejeduras (Weavings). Her life-long interest in weaving is perhaps most technically displayed in this series. Using materials such as cut-up magazine pictures, cigarette packets, gold cellophane bands, paper boxes, and her own cut-up prints, Gego interlaces these strips to create an elegant pattering of texture and varying dimensionality. Only a limited number of Tejeduras were created from 1988 to 1990, making these works quite rare and precious to find.

  • Sarah Grilo circa 1960s
    Sarah Grilo: The Artist
    Born in Buenos Aires in 1920, Sarah Grilo was a primarily self-taught artist until she began her studies with Catalonian painter Vincente Puig. While this formal training period was vital in refining her technical approach, Grilo would eventually break away from the traditional, figurative academic norms to create a more abstract visual language of her own. In a July 1954 interview Grilo was asked what to her was most fundamental to painting, her response: “painting must be a manifestation of its current time; it holds the greatest potential of expressive power.” More importantly she added, “it was the responsibility of each new generation of artists to disrupt” what was created by their predecessors. Grilo’s own declaration would serve as a catalytic force in shaping her body of work.

  • New York City Subway
    New York City: Graffiti & Lyrical Abstraction
    In 1956, Grilo was chosen to exhibit in the Argentine Pavilion for the XXVIII Venice Biennale. Shortly thereafter, she was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and would consequently move to New York in 1962 finding herself within the height of the American Abstract Expressionist and Pop movements. The City’s vibrant streets and intense energy would have a consequential impact on Grilo, setting her paintings apart from contemporaries Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Lee Krasner, to name a few. Appropriating the loose, gestural sensibility of the abundant graffiti she found on building facades and subway cars to the refinement of graphic, typographic letters on torn street posters, she began a series that abandoned the “pure” and more formalized abstract expressionist cannon of spontaneous, “action painting. Grilo’s new language was a system of signs; while appearing chaotic at first glance, her paintings in fact hold a fluid, lyrical, and controlled refinement.

  • Sarah Grilo, Made for You, 1963. Estimate $10,000–15,000.
    Painted in 1963, shortly after moving to New York, Made for You is a prime example from this significant period of artistic evolution for Grilo: her rigorous and energizing technique along with her inventive, pictorial language of superimposing wild lines against sporadically placed type-print front is on full display here. A painting from this period is currently on view in the exhibition “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

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