Contesting Modernity: Informalism in Venezuela Opens at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Partners with Mercantil Bank and
Colección Mercantil Arte y Cultura, Caracas, for comprehensive exhibition of Venezuelan Informalism

More than 100 works in Contesting Modernity: Informalism in Venezuela, 1955−1975 explore the expressive richness and historical significance of the movement

Though Informalism ushered in an era of expressive richness in Venezuela, and later functioned as a rite of passage for subsequent generations, until now, no exhibition or publication has comprehensively studied its history.

The exhibition will be on view until January 21, 2019.

Contesting Modernity features approximately 90 works of art that showcase the variety, richness, and complexity of an underrepresented movement that developed in Venezuela opposite Abstract Expressionism in North America and Tachisme and Art Informel in Europe.

Represented in Contesting Modernity are chief practitioners of the movement: Alberto Brandt, José María Cruxent, Francisco Hung, Fernando Irazábal, Mercedes Pardo, Luisa Richter, Maruja Rolando, and Humberto Jaimes Sánchez, among others.

Find members of the avant-garde group El Techo de la Ballena (The Roof of the Whale); abstract geometric creators like Carlos Cruz -Diez, Gego, Alejandro Otero, and Jesús Rafael Soto who had brief brushes with Informalism; painter and sculptor Elsa Gramcko, who exemplified a unique approach to Informalism. 

Also artists Mario Abreu, Jacobo Borges Marisol Escobar, Régulo Pérez and Tecla Tofano who experimented with Informalism, but did not officially identify with the movement.

The number of women artists associated with the movement, and represented in this exhibition, is extraordinary by any standard of the period.

Drawing from the collection of Mercantil Arte y Cultura, the non-profit organization established by Mercantil Servicios Financieros, as well as from other public and private collections across the United States and Venezuela, the exhibition encompasses a wide range of media, including collage, painting, assemblage, and photographs.

Gary Tinterow, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston said they’re thrilled to partner with Mercantil Bank and Colección Mercantil Arte y Cultura on this exhibition and grateful for their generous contributions, which are important, yet historically overlooked. The works of art on available to U.S. audiences for the first time.

“Barring few exceptions, focused research and study of Informalism has remained an outstanding gap in the history and historiography of Venezuelan and Latin American art,” added Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and organizing curator of the exhibition.

“More than 60 years after the movement’s emergence,Contesting Modernity, along with its related publication, fills that gap and sheds light on these influential artists and their significant contributions,” Ramirez said.

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