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Radical Shift

Political and Social Upheaval in Argentinean Art since the 1960s. Museum Morsbroich, Germany, 13 March - 22 May 2011.
Apr 2011

With works by Oscar Bony (1941-2002), Nicola Costantino (b.1964), León Ferrari (b.1920), Gabriela Golder (b.1971), Norberto Gómez (b.1941), Victor Gríppo (1936-2002), Alberto Heredia (1924-2000), Guillermo Kuitca (b.1961), Jorge Macchi (b.1963), Fabián Marcaccio (b.1963), Charly Nijensohn (b.1966), Cristina Piffer (b.1953), Juan Carlos Romero (b.1931) and Graciela Sacco (b.1956)

A period of radical upheaval took place in Argentinean art during the late 1960s and the early 1970s. This shift wasn’t solely articulated in formal experiments. It was motivated above all by the renunciation of institutionalized contexts and concomitant espousal of a more committed form of art critical of the media, which in turn brought forth political actions and public interventions. This art engendered an active distancing from the ruling authorities, who were stealthily launching an insidious process of censorship, repression and marginalization. This process culminated in a brutal military regime that seized the reins of power and ruled for more than half a decade.

These experiences, coupled with an undaunted quest for a national identity, still characterize contemporary art in Argentina today. In more recent times, the economic crisis in 2001 still marks a trenchant watershed, which repeatedly transformed social conditions on a massive scale. Artworks focusing thematically upon that socio-political upheaval and expose those processes operating ‘subcutaneously’ occupy centre stage in the exhibition. Indeed, these dual narrative strands are frequently present in one and the same artwork.

The exhibition ranges from the politically-motivated, conceptual art of the 1960s and the 1970s via the immediate engagement with the period of dictatorship, all the way to the work of both successive generations that, for their part, relate to reality in highly distinctive ways. If four decades ago, direct engagement with the political events predominated as an artistic approach, questions of identity combined with existential human experience emerge as the salient themes today - viz. isolation, loneliness, disappearance and loss. Violence, be it of a psychological, repressive nature or treated within the specific historical context, plays a central role in practically all the works.

The focused approach towards contemporary art in Argentina, based upon outstanding artistic positions featured here, reflects art’s sustained relevance and power to create identity to this day. Whether in the form of an installation, photography, painting, sculpture or video - these fourteen artists produce images in a variety of media that are as nuanced as they are drastic. The fact that only a few years ago, a retrospective exhibition on León Ferrari - one of the protagonists of the art scene - caused massive protests and subsequently became an object of legal proceedings, clearly demonstrates the abiding volatility of contemporary Argentinean art.

A 224-page catalogue is published by the Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg in German and Spanish with 100 color illustrations, academic essays by Claudia Gilman, Andrea Giunta and Heike van den Valentyn, a foreword by Markus Heinzelmann, as well as short monographical texts on each artist; a chronology, manifestos, artist biographies and a bibliography provide further information on the development of Argentinean art since the 1960s.

The catalogue costs 25 Euro from the museum box office during the duration of the exhibition. The retail price in bookshops is 32 Euro.


Press information

Radical Shift

Political and Social Upheaval in Argentinean Art since the 1960s

13 March - 22 May 2011

Museum Morsbroich
Gustav-Heinemann-Strasse 80
51377 Leverkusen
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Director of the Museum:
Markus Heinzelmann

Curator of the exhibition:
Heike van den Valentyn

Project direction Argentina:
Cristina Sommer

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