As part of the Annual Guide to Galleries, Museums and Artists (A.i.A.‘s August issue), we preview the 2014-15 season of museum exhibitions worldwide. In addition to offering their own top picks, our editors asked select artists, curators and collectors to identify the shows they are looking forward to. Here, curator Mari Carmen Ramírez talks about Joaquín Torres-García.
“I curated two exhibitions of Torres-García’s work—one in 1990 and the other in 2009—and I have shown his work in almost every exhibition I have organized. He’s considered an avant-garde pioneer in Latin America. He was a theoretician as well as a multifaceted artist who made paintings, wood constructions, drawings and more.
“Torres-García is difficult to classify because he didn’t produce completely abstract work like his peers Mondrian and van Doesburg. He wanted to merge the grid with forms and pictographs that reference universal culture. That is a very Latin American thing to do. An artist working from the South feels that the entire history of art is at his disposal to use in different ways.
“Torres-García coined the phrase ‘our north is the south’ and made a drawing where he inverted the map of South America, with the southern tip facing north. That became a very emblematic drawing for Latin American artists, particularly in the 1990s and 2000s. It has been reproduced all over because it signals that distinct versions of modernism and the avant-garde exsisted in Latin America.
“The artist had a very influential career during his lifetime but continues to be an underrepresented and misunderstood figure. That’s why all of us in the field are looking forward to this exhibition.”
Mari Carmen Ramírez is curator of Latin American art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.