“New Art of Argentina”. Instituto Di Tella, 1964. Buenos Aires

“Buenos Aires 64”. Pepsi-Cola Exhibition Gallery, 1964. Nueva York

“Premio Nacional e Internacional Instituto Torcuato Di Tella 1965”. Instituto Di Tella, 1965. Buenos Aires

“Luis Felipe Noé. Paintings”. Galería Bonino, 1966. Nueva York

“Beyond Geometry”. Instituto Di Tella, 1968. Buenos Aires

“Materiales, nuevas técnicas, nuevas expresiones”. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1968. Buenos Aires. Text by Basilio Uribe

Tiped Text. New York, 1968; reproduced in Cippolini, Rafael (ed.). Manifiestos argentinos. Políticas de lo visual 1900-2000. Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo, 2003

“New Art of Argentina”. Buenos Aires: Instituto Di Tella, 1964
Jan Van der Marck / Jorge Romero Brest

Organized by the Torcuato Di Tella Institute, this exhibition took place at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center, on 1964. The exhibition was also shown at Ohio’s Akron Art Institute, Atlanta Art Association and Austin’s University of Texas’ Art Museum.

In making selections and proposing groupings for this exhibition “New Art of Argentina,” our objective was to present museum visitors in the United States with the most viable and stimulating aspects of current Argentine art.  The foreign eye, by necessity, chooses works that show a relationship to the international idiom of contemporary art.  In this respect Argentina, perhaps more than any other Latin American country, is highly susceptible to the winds of change and innovation.  Artists in Argentina not only assimilate ideas and impulses from abroad, but have taken an active role in the promulgation and expansion of their own ideas.  Their part in new directions and movements has been recognized by the international art world.

Since the nineteenth century, France has been the dominant tastemaker for painters and sculptors in Argentina, endowing them with a sense of order and clarity, a love for theory and experiment.  Italy, through its gifted emigrants and its many cultural ties, accounts for a high degree of creative imagination and surprising versatility in Argentine art.  The Germanic countries may have contributed some of the single-minded ideological pursuit and methodology in the elaboration of plastic principles.  Contemporary Spain’s effect on Argentine art is evidenced by a taste for violent, often ghoulish imagery, as well as for monochromatic, earthy painting surfaces.  The common denominator of Latin American art, a death awareness, derived from both Indian and Spanish cultures, is less apparent in Argentine art.  There is little of the self-consciously folkloric, and none has been included in this selection.

The “new” in Argentine art already has a noteworthy, young tradition.
Argentina’s involvement in the art activities of Western Europe, particularly those of France, dates back to the middle forties, when Kosice founded the “Madí” movement and Maldonado preached the gospel of Max Bill.  The Bauhaus and De Stijl were their models and sources of inspiration.  Concrete art was the watchword.  Representatives of the “Madí” movement were shown at the “Salon des Réalités Nouvelles” in Paris in 1948, and Arden-Quin, one of “Madí’s” co-founders, directed a Paris chapter of that movement until 1953.  From 1958 to the present, a similar extension of a French esthetic “chapel” can be found Julio Llinás’ relentless promulgation of the “Phases” group.  Le Parc’s and Demarco’s roles in the foundation of the “Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel” in 1960 constituted another example of the two-way exchange between the arts of Argentina and Western Europe.  The 1946 publication in Buenos Aires of the “Manifiesto Blanco” by Argentine art’s important innovator, Lucio Fontana, further illustrates how ideas of international effect have been launched from the banks of the River Plate.  Because Fontana’s work, within the context of “Spazialismo,” has become an integral part of the living tradition of contemporary Italian art, we have decided against its inclusion in the present survey.

Recent exhibitions of Latin American art in which Argentines were prominently included have established identity for that country’s artistic expressions in the United States (notably, “South American Art Today,”organized by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts in 1959, and “Latin America: New Departures,” organized by the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art in 1961).  In these showings abstract art, the predominant trend from 1952 until the emergence of a new figuration in 1962, was featured in the works of such artists as Fernández-Muro, Grilo, Ocampo, Pucciarelli, Sakai and Testa.  The geometrists and constructivists gained more acceptance for their work in Europe than in this country, where they were never more than incidentally included in exhibitions.  The same applies for the “Phases” group, whose members, like the constructivists, had opportunities to exhibit their works in Paris, but not in the United States.  An incipient familiarity with paintings of the new figuration was created through the efforts of the Visual Arts Division of the Pan American Union, in Washington, D.C.  A breakthrough in the United States for this group, consisting of Deira, Macció, Noé and de la Vega, came with their recent inclusion in the 1964 Guggenheim International Award exhibition, and they are now assuming status that was once solely the abstract painters’ prerogative.  A vanguard group, whose allegiances are divided between French “nouveau réalisme” and American “pop art” and whose reputation has not yet spread beyond Buenos Aires, is presented in the United States for the first time in this survey.  Of the sculptors in the exhibition, those who live in Paris (Kosice, Penalba and Di Teana) are in varying degrees known in this country.  Their colleagues in Buenos Aires (Badii, Gerstein and Iommi) may be unknown to the North American art audience, although they have exhibited in Venice and São Paulo biennials.

In 1959, Rafael Squirru, then Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno of Buenos Aires, stated that the Argentines were the least innocent people in the world, and that this fact was clearly illustrated by their art.  If we interpret the word “innocent” as “naïve,” “steeped in isolation” and “parochial,” then the statement most certainly holds true, particularly in 1964.  It is unlikely, and of questionable desirability, that the many styles and idioms of contemporary art in Argentina will ever congeal into one national style.  Such a monolithic expression is as unlikely there as it is in any other country involved in the complexities of modern times.  The phenomenal migration which drains artists of talent from the Buenos Aires community at an alarming rate (thirteen Argentines in this exhibition presently live or work abroad) has at least one beneficial effect: it accelerates the “internationalization” of Argentine art and contributes to the art of other countries.  Emigration, which used to be an escape and an indictment of the barrenness of the national climate, now takes on the positive quality of a search for new challenges, stylistic alignment and companionship of ideas.  With the increasing facilities of the capital city and the notable sophistication of its artistic climate much that has been carried abroad will no doubt return to Argentina, fuller in fact and potential.

“New Art of Argentina” is the second in the Walker Art Center’s series of exhibitions devoted to contemporary art in Latin America, the first being “New Art of Brazil” which, after its premiere here in 1962, was circulated nationally.  In organizing the present exhibition, we had the support of the Walker Art Center Board of Directors and the invaluable sponsorship of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires.  The Instituto generously agreed, through its Executive Director, Enrique Oteiza, to assume responsibility for the assembly and shipping of all works of art coming from Buenos Aires, as well as for the printing and financing in part of a substantial catalogue.  The Director of the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella’s Centro de Artes Visuales, Professor Jorge Romero Brest, and its Sub-Director, Samuel Paz, deserve our greatest thanks.  In making the selections for this exhibition, we had the active assistance of Professor Romero Brest, formerly Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and an acknowledged connoisseur of Argentine art.  We had the good fortune of being accompanied in Buenos Aires in our visits to studios, galleries, museums and private collections, by Samuel Paz, who also took care of numerous details pertaining to the exhibition and catalogue.

In Buenos Aires for assistance in meeting artists and seeing their works we are indebted to Hugo Parpagnoli, Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Samuel Oliver, Director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, and Mario Fano, Director of the Galería Lirolay.  Ignacio Pirovano introduced us to the geometrist artists, and Julio Llinás acquainted us with the “Phases” group.  Guillermo Whitelow and Enzo Manichini of the Galería Bonino, Sra. Blanca Sagazzola de Junerur, Director of the Galería Rioboo and Natalio Jorge Povarche, Director of the Galería Rubbers, gave of their time and interest.

In the United States this project has been enthusiastically supported by the Embassy of the Argentine Republic, especially through the efforts of its First Secretary and Director of Cultural Affairs, Juan J. Mathé.  The Embassy staff assisted with translations.  We are particularly grateful to Mr and Mrs Alfredo Bonino of the Gallery Bonino in New York and to Rafael Squirru and Dr. José Gomez-Sicre of the Pan American Union in Washington, D. C.
Sr. Squirru, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs, showed a special interest in this exhibition.  Dr. Gomez-Sicre, Chief of the Visual Arts Division, generously made available to us the excellent resources of his office.

Jan van der Marck

Suzanne Foley
Associate Curator

by Jorge Romero Brest

It would be useless to search for a distinctive stylistic contribution from the Argentine art of the last 150 years.  A national identity can develop in a country’s art only when there is a free, yet unified response by its artists to the country’s spirit.  Such an atmosphere can produce works of art which are dynamic, in a dialectic relationship with that spirit.  Although Argentine art is still far from this position, our efforts to attain it continue.

Unfortunately, our artistic tradition was established by those generations whose concept of pictorial form was limited.  They were unable to profit from past experience.  Moreover, progress was slowed up by the affliction of positivistic philosophies which obscured rather than enlightened the creative mind.

The backwardness of Argentine art is understandable.  Conservative elements have predominated since the beginning of the nineteenth century.  The second-rate European artists who came to Argentina depicted the picturesque River Plate area in the styles of their native countries, thus imposing a naïve, representational folk style upon those native-born artists who were trained at their sides, and disregarding the possibility of stylistic influence from the colonial environment.  Consequently, as the Europeans continued to employ their traditional ideas and methods, the Argentines did likewise, but were only able to adapt these superficially.  This resulted in paintings and prints based on forms which the mediocre of them rapidly converted into stereotypes.

Our artists’ inferiority complex vis-a-vis Europe probably developed at this time, and it did not disappear as they visited Europe at the end of the nineteenth century.  Were these artists impressed by French Impressionism or by its counterpart, the Macchiaioli art of Italy?  Not at all. Unfortunately, the were attracted by European academicians and, therefore, painted in a neo-classical and naturalist manner.  The subsequent generation of Argentine artists visiting Europe discovered the more progressive movements, but again adapted these superficially.  There were a few notable exceptions, who, freed from the craft itself, sought to understand the new styles.

New directions finally appeared in the art of the twenties and thirties.  How did these new currents develop?  Certainly not in an overt manner, although the majority of Argentine painters and sculptors spent considerable time in Europe, particularly in France.  Thus in Argentina, there were almost no extensions of Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism or Futurism.  Most of our art was timid and lacking in nerve or vigor.  Abstract artists were, so to speak, still in diapers.  Consequently, the development of Argentine art was initially stunted by artists so conservative that they were unable to transcend a limited view.  This was not caused by their being “Europeanized” but by their not being fundamentally “Europeanized.”  It was caused at first by thoughtless rejection of new forms of expression, then by much belated, timid acceptance which led to a bastardization of the new forms.  These generations should have realized the need to look inward as well as outward, for only by looking upon what truly exists can man himself exist.  Instead, the belated new Argentine movements, in their spurious and adulterated development, barred the creative impulse from developing along its redemptive path.

The initially conservative art, inherited from European academic art, is to this day addressed to the large lay public of Argentina, while experimental art, also derived from an alien tradition, found a smaller, more discriminating, audience.  It is impossible to successfully integrate the old and the new if they have nothing in common.  The results are either sterility or chaos.  Such were indeed the chaotic results of Argentine painting in the thirties and forties, a period during which not even art critics could distinguish clearly between paintings of the so-called “old school” and those of the “modern style.”  This “modern style,” though widely discussed, was generally misunderstood, as the significance of its derivation from European Fauvism was ignored.  Almost none of the European innovators had been exhibited in Buenos Aires at that time.

Considering this lack of contact and understanding, how can we then explain that some of our painters and sculptors did create fine works, and occasionally masterpieces?  These were the products of isolated fires such as dare burn in the chilly atmosphere of repression.  Sixteen years ago I expressed the thought in the first issue of the magazine “Ver y Estimar:”

“The worst calamity is the lack of a common emotional climate among the artists; the lack of a sort of intimacy among and within themselves.  These conditions, if established, would lead the artist to a discovery of our national identity, via the individual vision, which paradoxically is the only way toward a sense of universal being.”

I am glad to say, the situation has changed.  By adopting a freer attitude toward art, our younger artists echo a spirit generated in other countries.  Such rapprochement is possible in contemporary art.  The difference between the art of our young generation and that in other countries might seem subtle.  Even among us, some say there is actually no difference, but I disagree and say that indeed there is.  Upon this certainty we base our optimism, strengthened by similar judgments of the foreign art critics who have visited us in recent years: Lionello Venturi, Giulio Carlo Argan and Gillo Dorfless, from Italy; André Malraux, Jean Cassou and Jacques Lassaigne, from France; Herbert Read, from Great Britain; Willem Sandberg, from Holland; and James Johnson Sweeney, from the United States.

Thus, the thankless but inevitable task of including some and excluding other is justified.  It would be false to say that to our judgment the works of those less daring artists are worthless.  Certain works have doubtless merit within the national milieu.  The question of which works are of “national” and which of “international” merit constitutes a grave problem for those appointed to choose among them.  Are different standards of judgment used?  Should different criteria in a selection for the international milieu be followed?  Indeed, such double standards must be considered.  Many artists in our country, in spite of or because of inhibiting forces, have created significant works of art representing persons or places or expressing ideas or feelings from an Argentine point of view.  However, it is not fair to demand of the foreign public an understanding of these indigenous concepts.  The value of a work is not established by a mere comparison of formal elements, but rather by how intensely it evokes a freer and fresher vision.  Since most works of national merit are more limited, the selection for an international audience must include works of broader vision.

The vigorous sweep of the new artistic movements through Europe and the Untied States vitally touches the activities of private galleries and museums, inciting the release of the creative spirit everywhere.  This liberating process already manifested itself in one artistic trend within our own country.  Our so-called Geometrists are the heirs of the Concrete group of the forties, which was the first frankly new school in the country.  The Concretists adhered strictly to European dogma, and this approach seemed to them, at the time, the only way to validly establish identity.  Their followers, the Geometrists, were possibly not better, but certainly much freer.  Those in Buenos Aires, of which three are represented in the exhibition: Mac-Entyre, Silva and Vidal, are still in the process of cautious experimentation, whereas those Argentine artists in Paris work in the full self-confidence of creation.  The latter group is represented in the exhibition by three painters: Demarco, Le Parc, Tomasello, and two sculptors: Di Teana and Kosice.  These residents abroad are finding new redeeming exits from Geometricism.  This is also witnessed by the drawings of Magariños D., the only draftsman in the exhibition.

Before the present generation of Geometrists, the work of the so-called Abstract group was the dominant trend in the avant-garde movement.  It should be noted that the term “abstract” under which we have grouped six young painters, Fernández-Muro, Grilo, Ocampo, Pucciarelli, Sakai and Testa, is rather imprecise.  However, the impulse toward the experimental and the new keeps their work in the mainstream of international art.  These artists transcend the national milieu and have been recognized at home and abroad.  As a matter of fact, only one of the six, Testa, is presently living in Buenos Aires.

Very different from the above is the attitude of Borda, Chab, Peluffo and Polesello, four representative of the Phases group in Buenos Aires.  They adhere to a broad and less dogmatic artistic theory than the Paris branch of this group, but to a theory nevertheless.  According to it, they paint images in a more defined manner, in contrast to the Abstract group, whose forms are not purposefully sought, but develop from a visionary view.  The Phases painters, if not innovators as the others, are young, daring, and deserve to be included in this selection.

The Geometrist, the Abstract and the Phases painters use relatively conventional methods and media.  The five Neo-Figurative painters included in the exhibition, Deira, Noé, Macció, de la Vega and Seguí, though bowing to tradition, by going beyond these conventions are far more courageous when it comes to the freeing or unblocking process described previously.  Their works of such merit that I believe they will eventually inherit the leading role now held by the Abstract group.  The Instituto Torcuato Di Tella awarded by its International Prize in 1963 to one of these Neo-Figurative painters, Macció.

Antonio Berni (winner of the International Engraving Prize at the XXXI Biennale in Venice) in recent years has used as the protagonists of his collages two imaginary personages, the young boy, Juanito Laguna, and the courtesan, Ramona Montiel.  They are as distinct personalities, I would say, as the artist himself, a strong partisan of “social realism,” who by working a sort of understated realism created a “cause-célèbre.”  In looking at his collages made of various materials and objects with painted figures, we find not only lyrical satire but such an affirmation of the popular way of life as to indicate he still remains the realist of his earlier days.

Berni, Tomasello and Polesello excepted, the painters in the groups already mentioned are men and women ranging in age from thirty to forty-two.  However, the more avant-garde the group, the younger the age of its members.  Although I would not define some of the most advanced or novel of these works as pop art, they are undoubtedly more startling than the rest.  Among these young painters, Puzzovio, Minujín and Santantonín have a dad-like fascination with making objects out of common and perishable materials.  Cancela and Squirru, whose art relates more to surrealism, also employ assemblage media but concentrate less on objects and more on the act of painting itself.  All of these young artists are motivated by a free-wheeling spirit which will undoubtedly soon yield the rich fruits of artistic maturity.  They are the leaders in freeing and unblocking creative forces in our country, essential for the formation of a national artistic style.

Unfortunately, the sculptors represented in the exhibition are few.  These artists are older men and women and of greater international repute.  Thus they are much less representative of the new liberating spirit embodied by the painters.

This exhibition was prepared with exemplary zeal by Walker Art Center.  I thank all those concerned with this project in the name of the Argentine artists and the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella.  It is my sincere hope that these works will help toward establishing closer contacts between the peoples of our two amicable countries.

Jorge Romero Brest wrote a Spanish version, unedited until the publication of Escritos de vanguardia. Arte argentino de los años sesenta (Avant-garde writings. Argentinean Art of the 70s) edited by Inés Katzenstein (Buenos Aires, Fundación Espigas-Fundación Proa- Museum of Modern Art, 2008). Although its English version was included in New Art of Argentina’s exhibition catalogue, it differs greatly from the unedited writings. This is why, the latter has been modified to fit the ideas included in the north American edition of the exhibition catalogue.


“Buenos Aires 64”. Pepsi-Cola Exhibition Gallery, 1964. Nueva York
Hugo Parpagnoli

As happens nowadays in cities fostering a large artistic community, all generations ans all strains of this century´s plastic art may be found in 1964 Buenos Aires.

There are many painters and sculptors the the Argentine capital, and when a museum or a committee is called upon to pick some of them to represent these arts abroad, the difficult part of the task is to end the list, for there is always one more, equally valuable, that could be added.  In this case, the selection was not so difficult, because it consisted of assembling vanguard expressions, and even though this concept is aleatory, it can be applied in every era to the production sector occupied by young artists.

The choice was made, consequently, from among young artists in such a way that the exhibit would represent, if not all, at least the greatest possible number of attitudes now expressed by there young artists in Buenos Aires.  The choices range from Berni and Noé – who humanize their works with passional touches and raw materials – to Ary Brizzi, who gives a palpable body to austere geometric formulas; from Puzzovio – who materializes her painful dreams – to Rappaport, who invents an abstract language with the remains of old paintings.

From the sector of ¨new beings,¨ the optimistic, strong children of Minjin were invited to commune with the mineral fauna of Santantonín or the unearthly monsters of Renart.  The dramatic sculptures of Heredia or the incisive sculptures of Ferrari, the décollages of Gowland Moreno, born in the disorder of the streets and arranged with harmonic spectacularity, the lyric images of Robirosa or of Uria, the mechanist-oneiric visions of Squirru on a surface and of Ciordia in volume, the arbitrary architectures of Wells, the subjective caves of Borda, Mitre Aguirre´s materials conscious of their density and Mesejean´s popular illustrations – all are points of reference in the Buenos Aires plastic panorama.

The contributions of these painters and sculptors of different races, nationalities and cultures are not schools or prescriptions, but rather frank opening to today´s world, whose suggestions, seductions and attacks incite these artists to personal answers that are related only through the same youthful ardor, the freedom of contemporaneous techniques and the restlessness characteristic of explorers.

The Museo de Arte Moderno of Buenos Aires accepted with a great deal of interest Pepsi-Cola Company´s request to organize this exhibit for New York, the major center of vanguard art and the capital of world art.  The Museum wishes to express its thanks to Pepsi-Cola Company in this effort that further binds the ties between North and South America.

Hugo Parpagnoli
Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno of Buenos Aires


“Premio Nacional e Internacional Instituto Torcuato Di Tella 1965”. Buenos Aires: Instituto Di Tella, 1965
Giulio Carlo Argan

A Technological Future for Art?
Ideology and technology are usually considered antithetical. Though determined by a set of psychological and sociological conditions, ideology is a conception of the world. While based on an actual situation, it is an ideal for the future. Though not a utopia, ideology is, as Mannheim has explained, an imaginary construction that discourages action, an idea-force that solicits and directs action.

Politics is ideology’s specific realm; its specific power is the party, as a group of persons who strive to coordinate their efforts in order to construct a society different from the one in which they live. Ideology is not an affirmation of the advent of an absolutely perfect, invariable society (if it were, ideology would cease to exist as soon as its goals were met); the society aspired to is the one that can be aspired to in a determined historical context, that is, a society without the errors and contradictions that riddle current society. There can be no ideology without historical criticism of the current situation; ideology is the idea-force that changes criticism into agenda, and renders criticism itself a concrete action.

Technology is no longer purely instrumental, hetero-direct action: in the history of civilization, it has moved from the lowest, humblest sectors, who are the only ones to practice it, towards the ruling sectors, and today it is impossible to imagine a world without the machine that delineates programs and corrects operational errors. The advance of technology followed the development of history until men asked the mechanical realm to meet their needs. But we all know that that is no longer the case; society must generate its own needs, invent new ones, so that industry’s immanent technical devices can keep moving, faster and faster. Technological advance has been explained on the basis of the argument that, though removed from the course of history, it is subject to science and its development (as if it were supra or extra-historical); in fact, however, scientific advance has proven subordinate to technology. Technology imbues even ethics, standing as a model of conduct, tending to match its pace to the pace of human existence: technology now presents itself as the arbitrator of the fate of society, having objectively found the means to weaken it. By replacing human logic with its own logic, technology tends to do away with the relationship between historical criticism and ideological agenda that has been the engine of civilization; to destroy the value of reason by means of the identification or lack of distinction between absolute rationality and absolute irrationality; to eliminate the moral and political problematic, and to turn human life into the inorganic absolute, mass society.

These are the terms of the overarching problem. What is the position and fate of art in this context? And, mostly, why concern oneself with art? Because art, in the entire historical “cycle” of human existence, has provided models of value and conduct. The end of art would mean the end of historical experience as the basis for experience and action, the end of invention as the mode of changing values and of progressing, and perhaps even the end of the notion of “value.” The analysis we set out to undertake at this convention will provide us with elements to critique a situation we are determined to continue to call historical, though it is often offered to us as anti-historical, fateful.

We cannot fathom the reversal or detainment of technological progress, or the illusion that man can determine his own moral and political conduct independent of it.

We are not after compromise solutions.

But in confronting the general problem of self-management and technological hegemony or, in a word, technocracy, we ask ourselves if technocracy does not harbor a very precise political intent and, therefore, if there are not groups interested in making industry an instrument of power rather than of production, thus holding back the historical development of society, its ideological and revolutionary course, ensuring that the revolution will take place automatically and be performed by machines.

If this is the case, the political function of art is also clear: institutionally "ideological" as the creator of models of value and conduct, it is an essential force in ideological struggle. Or it is not, and art will die, but at the hand of capitalism, not industrial technology. My second point also deals with the "death of art." We don’t want to be prophets and state that art will or will not die and when. But the possibility that art may die is on the horizon, before our historical consciousness: any artist or art historian is aware of the forces that tend to organize the world such that there will be no place for art.
We think about the end of art as we think about death: the fact that thoughts of death are at times more sustainedly present does not mean that death is closer. The most important art of our times is the art in which thoughts of the death of art is lucid and irritating, determined by artistic intention and its ideological impulse.

My third point entails the valorization of art in relation to aesthetic experience in general.

It seems clear that mass culture is largely image-based and, hence, tends to instrumentalize aesthetic experience. It is also clear that the unlimited spread of information through images might render the artistic act –as traditionally understood, devoid of its function as a mediator of aesthetic experience– useless. The crisis of traditional art techniques is acute and irreversible.

What chance is there of art innovating its own techniques and inserting itself in the current technological context?

Finally, technology presents itself as a progressive model of conduct unhampered by ideology, yet it attempts to avoid being reduced to mere pragmatism, asserting methodology, almost the technology of technique, as its ideal. Can this higher, overarching, axiological function of methodology be recognized, and if so in what conditions?

Is the hypothesis that the ideological impulse is positively worked through by an intentioned methodology legitimate?

And, lastly, is art, in its most advanced and committed poetic, capable of providing current technology, that is, industrial technology, with a model for “intentioned methodology”?

Giulio Cario Argan

Statement by the Italian critic on the occasion of the convention held in Verucchio, Italy, last year. From the magazine "Metro" N° 9, 1965.


“Luis Felipe Noé. Paintings” (cat. Exp.). Nueva York: Bonino, 1966
Luis Felipe Noé


Dear Mr. Noé:                                                                                                                               December 1965

Once again, you ask me to talk about you.  Frankly, I don´t know what to do.  I have spent my life talking about you.  I even wrote a book, ¨Antiestética¨, to provide you with a foundation for your search, I have nothing more to say.  What has been said, has been said, although, naturally, it has not been said in English.  But the truth is that once the process of my ideas, which have directed your work and lead it through the road it now travels, has been synthetized there is only one word left which will symbolize it all, and it is: ¨chaos!¨, that dirty old word in art, which, however, is the only one useful in denominating today´s world.

We, the men of today, are creating among us a new order of things and signaling the way to a new organic ¨weltanschaung¨.  But this new order has nothing to do with any previous one.  It is above all to understand chaos that we are living, because what we call chaos is nothing but that for which we lack a pattern of understanding.  And since the artist is an individual who yearns to grasp that which escapes him, our chaos is the only certain object to which he must direct his preoccupations.  I think it is all right that you should try to reveal the image of chaos.  It is your duty as an artist, but you are doomed to failure, because as soon as you reach your goal you will be revealing a new order, and at the same time there will be other things that will flee from you and will constitute a new chaos.  It is in this way that I came to speak of the chaos in your work, as others were already doing, but no sooner had I made this compromise than that chaos became something even greater.  It was then that I was asked what chaos was it that I was talking about, since it could not be seen in my work.  The consciousness of what is to be done is always ahead of what is still to be done.

I know that you are trying desperately to grasp this chaos and that everything which in the name of order and unity constitutes what is ¨right¨ in art, as much for the old academicism as for any purism, seems incongruent with your everyday life.

Everything that presupposes a measure of order is incongruent with our most total reality.  Because of this, our society is constantly escaping the possibility of being symbolized, above all if we understand as ¨symbol¨ something which is schematic.

Here in the United States, as is manifest in Pop Art, the need for affirmation of the gregarious symbols is very urgent.  It is a society which affirms itself.  But in our country, as in the whole of South America, we are still at a stage previous to that of formulating our own way of life, as compared to the ¨American way of life¨, and thus we are left with that which precedes all order: chaos.  Therefore we must invest ourselves with it.

But what are you doing?

In the beginning, in 1960, chaos was for you the general romantic atmosphere of a neo-figurative work, where everything melted, because I told you then that to paint, the relationship between a couple is not to paint the individuals which comprise it but to paint the fusion of both individuals.  This was so until I realized that precisely that general atmospheric climate in a work of art is nowadays a falsity, since the essential element of contemporary society is the tension and opposition among diverging cosmovisions, the fraternization of opposing atmospheres.

Then you tried to oppose your subjective atmosphere to the object of everyday life, away from all subjectivity.  It was then that I told you that to paint two lovers in a bed is not to paint two lovers and the bed, but to paint two lovers in a bed.  Later, in 1962, you concentrated on proposing the divided painting, with more than one unity and with a multiplicity of atmospheres; but very ofter this was diluted in the expressionistic thematic.  It was then that I said of you, ¨Luis Felipe Noé is a literary painter whose only virtue is to take advantage of his own clumsiness.¨  But luckily, in 1964, you began to interpret the problem as one of a multiplicity of images in greater scale, and of indiscriminate accumulation.  It was then that I gave it the name: broken vision.  Immediately, and following my advice, you faced the question as one of solving a spatial structure, since the opposition of planes on a flat painting was now senseless.

Now, I advise you to try to wrap the spectator in a disorder of images, because as long as he has some perspective from which to watch the work, everything will once again become orderly.  Besides, I understand perfectly your need for an image of man, since he is the subject of chaos; but, as it happens, this links you constantly with the expressionistic, since your image is not a cold one but one which denounces man living his chaos.  Your expressionism is a danger for your search.  As long as your work continues to have thematic unity, you will not find that chaos for which you are searching.  But I do not want my theories to make your painting colder: there is no meaning in sterilized chaos.  Continue with your expressionism but don´t stay there.  I hate artists who speculate on their subjective world.

I don´t believe, as you do, that art is expression, but that with a foundation of expressiveness the artist objectifies himself in a search for the revelation of an image of the world which surrounds him and which at the same time is continuously escaping from him, as from a sorcerer´s apprentice.  But perhaps we are both right, especially when we are so close together.  The fact that we are both one person may even serve some purpose; but the best course is for you not to interfere in my work as a theoretician and for me to learn to profit from your experience.  Besides, without interfering with your work as a painter, I must continue to be your brilliant conscience: because if you are more sensitive and understand more about painting than I do, I am more intelligent and understand more about the contemporary creative process than you.  I know that this process is foreign to you as an individual, but you are not foreign to it: you belong to it.

Well now, is this good enough as an introduction?

Long live chaos, because it is the only thing which is alive!

Yours always,


Beyond Geometry (cat. Exp.). Buenos Aires: Instituto Di Tella, 1968
Stanton L. Catlin / Enrique Oteiza / Jorge Romero Brest


The Instituto Torcuato Di Tella was founded in Buenos Aires on June 22, 1958 in memory of its namesake, Mr. Torcuato Di Tella, who emigrated from Italy to Argentina, with the spirit of an industrial pioneer to establish one of the country´s most important enterprises.  A man of generous good will and humanistic sympathies, Mr. Di Tella´s interest in the affective aspects of human achievement took the form of collecting works of art by European masters of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and Baroque periods and, afterwards, by the French Impressionists.

Ten years after his death the legacy of his attachment to his adopted home and his liberal outlook took shape in the Institute´s broadly social and cultural aims as set forth by members of his family.  These included establishment of a ¨non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of art and science in Argentina and Latin America to complement the activities of official and private groups by high level work in all aspects of these areas, scientific, cultural and artistic development¨.

To carry out these general aims the Institute divided its efforts into three main areas of application or ¨fundamental disciplines¨ Social Sciences, Medicine and Art.  Then, in order to assure ¨individual and collective work¨ in the components of each area, it organized activity in each component under the jurisdiction of ¨Centers¨.  In Social Sciences, the Institute opened for example, Centers for Economic Research, Social Research, Public Administration, Educational Sciences, and Urban and Regional Studies.  In Medicine the Center for Neurological Research was established.  In Art the Centers for Latin American Advanced Musical Studies, Audio-Visual Experiment, and Visual Arts began activity, the latter in 1960.

Today, the Institute has nine such affiliated or directly sponsored Centers, privately financed through funds from the Di Tella Foundation and other private and public institutions, national and foreign.  Each is operated according to the highest professional and academic standards under a philosophy that conceives the scientific and artistic development of Argentina as part of overall Latin American tradition and that regards ¨universal man as the ultimate and essential human expression¨.  Collectively their work in these major and rapidly  expanding areas of knowledge and creativity has been, and remains, aimed at the ¨clarification of human and community issues¨ at home in order to give ¨effective currency to Argentine native characteristics as a people and to help establish her position of action¨ in the modern world.

The present exhibition, ¨Beyond Geometry¨, is presented by the Art Gallery of the Center for Inter-American Relations in concurrent celebration of the tenth anniversary of the parent Instituto Torcuato Di Tella and the eighth anniversary of the beginning of work of its Centro de Artes Visuales – one of the nine Centers mentioned previously – and as a special tribute to this Center´s leadership and extraordinary accomplishments during its existence to date.

In eight brief years of activity the Centro de Artes Visuales has realized a program that has focused with arresting clarity an exceptional range of the leading thought, critical opinions and creative achievement in the visual arts of the European and American Post War II world not only for Buenos Aires and Argentina but the La Plata region as a whole.  The record of the Center´s activities between 1960 and the past year (printed elsewhere in this catalogue) will suffice to show the concentrated quality and comprehensiveness of this work.

To set foot in the foyer of the reconstructed building in downtown Buenos Aires which serves as the Center´s exhibition, publications and social headquarters today is to struck by its spaciousness, the reserve of its architectonic treatment, and the quality of judgment that has governed the selection of the major works of art immediately on display.  The room bespeaks complete dedication to the creative processes of the present international art world, to the changing needs of those processes for work and display, to the probing contemporary artist, to the tacit invitation to the public to explore with artists the new ranges of artistic possibility that bear upon man and the world´s present and future state.

Paradoxically, one of the unique aspects of the Center´s activity in furthering Argentine art and helping give ¨effective currency¨ to its native characteristics has been its juxtaposition of international achievements of superior stature with Argentine work, also if highest quality, in its periodic International Prize competitions, always judged by the foremost world critics.  This contact between national and international leaders almost alone (certainly without the help of richly stocked museums and the uninterrupted flow of distinguished exhibitions which is standard fare in major U.S. and European cities) has produced, by association, a new clarity of artistic orientation and dependable sense of relative value in world art on the part of the Argentine artist an art public alike.  It has also contributed to Buenos Aires position as one of the world´s most up-to-date and self-confident artistic communities.  But also, through assimilation of creative influences from outside metropolitan sources, through the interaction between foreign and native impulses of high intellectual order, and through the testing of ideas born of international relationships that are basic to the condition of modern society, the intrinsic character and genius of Argentine artists has been released to an unprecedented degree, giving rise to their modern and cosmopolitan consciousness as against provincial identification, both as individuals and as representatives of their nation.  Thus it seems to have happened in the case of Argentina´s striking move to prominence on the international art scene in recent years.

This has been achieved with the historical background of a cultural and artistic evolution that, for geographical and ethnic reasons, closely paralleled Western and Mediterranean Europe for 150 years.  But it has also been done by overcoming one of the basic handicaps to Latin American art generally, the lack of first rate comparative materials in public art collections at home.

The proof of this remarkable success is to be found in the number of artists of unquestionable maturity, competence and promise that come from Argentina today; the wide range of contemporary and modern styles practiced in that country; the high quality of standard work, judged by international measurements to be found there; the regeneration and succession of viable national movements; and, above all the innovative fertility understood both national and internationally of the work of the country´s chief artists.

To speak further only of the latter: in the past four years, when the efforts of the Center began to show real effect, Argentina has contributed to world art a new expressionist movement of independent character ¨Neo-Figurism¨; a significant national variant on the presently ascendant late Constructivist tradition, epitomized in the Primary Structures and Elementary Visual Forms selected for the current exhibition, ¨Beyond Geometry¨; a new, international movement involved with light kinetics, the Paris-based ¨Groupe de Récherche d´Art Visuel¨, led by the Argentine Julio Le Parc; and Le Parc´s own Grand Prize award at the 1966 Venice Bienal for personal work which has led to one of the most important contemporary breakings that of reflected and refracted light in motion, and its social implications.

Again the long experience of Argentina in the 19th century academic, realist, and impressionist traditions followed by its participation in the European avant-garde movements from Cubism onward, and in American movements from Social Scene and Comment painting of the nineteen-teens to Concretism of the 1940s and Informalism of the 1950s, provided the best preparations for her present salient position among Latin American nations vis-a-vis world movements of the last five years and her present leadership through Le Parc, in the plastic light dynamics.

However, before the array of artistic possibilities of our times, the Di Tella Center, perhaps most significantly among the many things it has done, has played the part of a creative clearing house and the effective catalyst.  As such it has provided positive definition and centripetal action to the outward forces in contemporary art within the cultural context of its region.  This has been achieved only through the most discerning direction in which the selection and guidance of activity has been at least one of the major factors.  This selectivity and guidance, as well as the control required to keep progress withing given perspectives, has been brilliantly provided from the beginning of the Di Tella Center´s career by its Director, Jorge Romero Brest, who has brought to his task great knowledge as an art historian, experience as a museum director, and creative gifts as a critic.

The ¨Beyond Geometry¨ exhibition represents only one phase of the contemporary Argentine scene, it emphasizes three-dimensional primary structures.  In the Di Tella Center´s series of exhibitions that accompany and provide the field for the National Prize in its dual National and International Prize competitions, in this case the 5th that took place in September, 1967.  Although the title, ¨Beyond Geometry¨ is taken from that of an earlier Center exhibition (April, 1967), its contents emphasize the three-dimensional primary structures and elementary visual forms which became dominant in the 5th Prize competitions six months later.  In the effort to suggest the intermingling of more or less affiliated directions in Center sponsored exhibitions at the time of the Di Tella competitions, (as distinct from attempting a panorama of active movements and individual directions on the present Buenos Aires scene) the exhibition also presents four younger artists not included in the in the original ¨Beyond Geometry¨ show whose work has commanded recent attention.  These are the makers of ¨Experiences¨, Oscar Bony and David Lamelas, the latter a winner of one of the regional prized of the IX Sao Paulo Bienal; Eduardo Rodríguez, whose light projections are related to the ¨Groupe de Récherche d´Art Visuel¨; and Honorio Morales, who has been working in New York on shaped canvas constructions akin to the free elaborations of geometric order in combined painting and sculpture that is the central theme in the present exhibition.

The Torcuato Di Tella Institute was established in Buenos Aires in 1958 as a non-profit organization, in order to promote creative work in both art and scientific research in Argentina and Latin America.

Today, a new and much needed organizations, the Center for Inter-American Relations, makes it possible to present a series of aspects of the work of our Institute in the area of contemporary creativity, to the New York public.  Both New York and Buenos Aires have much to gain from increased communications in what relates to contemporary creative activities.  New York needs no introduction to itself or to the rest of the world.  Buenos Aires is less well known as a Twentieth Century urban and cultural phenomenon, in spite of the fact that it is a great city emerging dynamically onto the international creative scene.  The fact that its multi-dimensional cultural projection is recent explains this lag in international recognition.

Visual arts, theater, graphic arts, music, literature, and important publishing industry, a high degree of participation by a large public in all cultural activities, make Buenos Aires a cultural center of the first magnitude.  In our world today, the urban phenomenon only appears at full intensity in a few large cities.  New York and Buenos Aires, together with London, Paris, Tokyo and a few others, generate an enormous human creative activity, which is particularly noticeable in the arts.

In this urban environment the Institute has developed, directed particularly towards contemporary art and research in social sciences.  In art, the Visual Arts Center, the Latin American Center of Advanced Musical Studies, and the Audiovisual Experimental Center, have already contributed much to the the development of the avant-garde art, theater, and musical movements in Argentina and in Latin America.  In the social sciences, the Centers for Economic, Social and Educational Research and for Urban and Regional Studies, constitute an important focus-point for the scientific inquiry into crucial aspects for all of Latin America.  Our Press, Graphic Arts, Photography, Electronics and Arts Centers´s Membership Departments are important means of communication for art and knowledge.

In the more advanced parts of Latin America there is no interest in exploiting local color, nor in collaborating in the support of prejudice and ignorance such as exists in Europe and the USA with regard to Latin America.  We want to transmit some of the present vitality, personality and creative capacity of this part of the world which is still little known today in the more developed countries.

We want to express our sincere thanks to William H. MacLeish, Stanton Catlin and Ida Rubin, who have given us all their help and encouragement at all times to make possible this presentation of the  Torcuato Di Tella Instituto in New York.

Enrique Oteiza
Instituto Torcuato Di Tella


Materiales, nuevas técnicas, nuevas expresiones. Buenos Aires: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1968
Basilio Uribe


These are most certainly extraordinary times. If there is any doubt, just compare them with the moment when a flat Europe, on the verge of discovering “The Indies,” was about to recognize itself as part of a spherical world. What does the immediate future hold for us, we who will see human beings disembark on the spheres of outer space?

When the Old World was preparing to penetrate the Mare Ignotum, it also pierced another boundary: flat Medieval painting, impenetrable to the viewer, who constituted one universe and the scene before him another. Painting’s closed, unapproachable, hieratic universe became sheltering and penetrable, its third illusory dimension opened up by the perspective proto-Renaissance artists has invented.

What can we expect? For art to continue as it was until recently, when one could still to speak of painting and sculpture according to criteria whose origins lay in the 15th century? Do we think we might conceive of art as the mere ability to make something well, to make artistically, which is what it meant from Roman times until more or less two hundred years ago? Or is it a mode of knowledge different from science, the rapture of intuition, a conception created by Romantic poets that has gained ground into the present? Do we speak solely of art, or of art as humanity’s only aesthetic undertaking? Will art be the aesthetic project of the next age, one that has already begun? Let’s stop for a moment and take a look. The current conception of art exists alongside the notion of industry.

At the end of the 18th century, the hitherto solid idea of making was split in two, art and industry. Until then, there was a continuum that went from the art of craftsman to the art of those who made things devoid of use, whom we now, through the filter of these times, call artists. Industry was what imposed the need to define art, and art was what created by contrast the concept of industry in a sterile debate between two sides that felt mutually wounded. Manufacturing began as a poor copy of craftwork. After the industrial revolution seized England with the mechanical loom, the Luddite uprisings occurred due to, of course, the unemployment created by the machine, but also due to the fact that the new fabrics were of lesser quality than those woven by hand. That is, because industry lacked art. Thus, art came to be associated with the individual skill that the machine was not able to imitate.

Time went by and things grew more entangled. But the two halves were parts of a single whole. Industry was increasingly concerned with making and making more and better; art increasingly insisted on singularity, defining itself now not in terms of quality, but of the creation of unique and unrepeatable pieces. And these two movements, each one fully exploring its own possibilities, began to find common ground. Industry looked to the artist to stylize its products; and art, which could never do without the prime materials supplied by industry, found unprecedented satisfactions in the simple gathering and ordering of industrial materials. And that was only a step away from the renouncement of the idea of the unique piece, where the creator and only the creator could convey his intimate self.

And thus the rise of activities that cannot be understood according to the criteria traditionally assigned to art.

It's too soon to say if these activities are still art, or if they constitute a new category that will break away and find its own course, but it seems likely that they do, in fact, constitute a new sphere. Environments, to site just one example, do not confront the viewer with an act of expression where the artist subliminates and visually channels a human longing; they express neither the creator’s deepest self nor our own selves.

They are more akin to evidence, to that which is foreign to us and we must assume as such. They are there, that’s all. But they are resoundingly aesthetic. Should we use the old word and call them art?

And when this happens in the sphere of art, the traditional notion of industry is also altered. It is now commonplace to hear tell of post-industrial society, a term that refers not only to a certain per capita productive capacity whose limit is estimated at four thousand dollars, a level that the USA will reach soon, but also to the second industrial revolution: the shift from the mechanical to the electronic; from man at the service of the machine to man liberated from the machine by automation; from imagination subject to the mechanical processes of memory to the almost endless widening of the human brain by the computer. Will gears continue to be the symbol of industry?

Thus, industry becomes an instrument fully at the service of a new humanism. Art does not disregard its ability in the area of social communication, a field that, before the advent of industry, was part and parcel of art and that now eludes it. And industry, meanwhile, has come to accept the artist’s ability to explore, a wholly individual endeavor that is necessary for any social undertaking.

This show, Materiales, nuevas técnicas, nuevas expresiones [Materials, New Techniques, New Expressions], is one of the signs of the reconciliation of this longstanding opposition. Indeed, on a symbolic level, it might be the most important such sign in recent times. For as long as visual art competitions have been sponsored by one or several companies, none has been supported by an entity that represents all the industry of a country. Our culture is indebted to the Unión Industrial Argentina for this important event. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes also expresses its gratitude to the companies that donated prizes, provided the artists with prime materials, offered them favorable prices or manufactured their works for this show.

Basilio Uribe
September 9, 1968


Tiped Text. New York, 1968; reproduced in Cippolini, Rafael (ed.). Manifiestos argentinos. Políticas de lo visual 1900-2000. Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo, 2003
Alejandro Puente

Alejandro Puente

This text was written in New York in 1968. It was reproduced in Rafael Cippolini (ed.), Manifiestos argentinos. Políticas de lo visual 1900-2000, Buenos Aires, Adriana Hidalgo, 2003.

The word system, like any other technical word taken from colloquial speech, has many meanings; it is imprecise. Though this lack of precision in a technical word might initially seem dangerous, it is, in fact, often useful because it allows ideas to flourish while they are still vague; it allows connections to be made between ideas yet to be explored; and it allows those ideas to be extended and broadened instead of circumscribed and confined by a premature definition and precision. Of the many definitions of the word system, we are interested in two: the idea of “system as totality” and the idea of “generating system.” Though on the surface they may seem similar, these two notions are really quite different. In the first case, the word system makes reference to a holistic consideration of a given thing. In the second, the word system makes no reference whatsoever to things, but rather to the interplay of parts and rules of combination capable of generating many things.

Some holistic phenomena that should be seen as systems: the stability of a candle’s flame, the resistance of rope, the relationship between the input and the output of any computer. In order to refer to something as a system, we must clearly establish: 1. The holistic behavior on which we focus. 2. The parts of the thing and the interactions between them that produce (cause) the aforementioned holistic behavior. Only then will we have an abstract model of the holistic behavior in relation to which we can act. In this case the thing merits being called a system. We should not then use the word system to refer to an object. A system is an abstraction. It is not a special sort of thing, but rather a way of considering things.

This is a different use of the word system. Here, it is used to mean “a way of doing things.” Here, the system is a system of rules. A generating system can entail a simple interplay of parts and equally simple rules. Examples of this are betting system, formal mathematical systems and language systems. In this third case, there are rules at several different levels: in one, the letters are the parts; in another, the words are the parts, and they follow certain rules that determine the type of sentences that can be built with words in a determined language system.

The relationship between holistic systems and generating systems is easy to understand. If an object has certain holistic properties due to an interaction between parts, most certainly that object has been generated by some sort of process of those parts coordinated according to certain restrictions chosen to ensure an appropriate interaction between parts when the system must operate. Generating systems needn’t be conscious or explicit; in reality, the system becomes part of the resulting object.

The artist becomes a “designer of systems that make objects” instead of a “designer of objects.”

New York, 1968