dianamuse feature: león ferrari at moma

I'm captivated by the rhythm, movement and intricacy of León Ferrari's work. The perseverative, calligraphic structure pulls me right in - it is (perhaps oddly) soothing and familiar.

In the early 1960s, León Ferrari created in two styles: gestural drip drawings with entangled line structures, and what he called "written paintings"—drawings as texts and texts as drawings—whose striking visual qualities made them iconic in early Latin American Conceptualism. Through these two repertoires, Ferrari was able to question the distinction between art and language—between pure visuality and codified information, and between graphic gesture and calligraphy.

Untitled (after Rafael Alberti's Sermon of the Blood
- up top) was the piece that led Ferrari from gestural abstraction to his written paintings, and it therefore marks a turning point in his work. It was conceived as a visual interpretation of a poem by Rafael Alberti, a major Spanish modern poet and the artist's lifelong friend.

In 2004, NY Times critic Holland Cotter wrote that Ferrari's calligraphic drawings “...convey the impression of carrying coded and encrypted information known only to the artist. In short, they are like a taunting gesture of counter-censorship. Through its very opaqueness, abstraction - real or imagined - becomes a political tool.”

These and others are on view now through February 25 at MoMA. Or go here for a peek.

:new perspectives in latin american art, 1930–2006: selections from a decade of acquisitions, through february 25, 2008 - moma


Jane Flanagan said...

Oooh - these are amazing! I' be in New York in a week and will definitely check these out.
Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

These are beautiful - I'm so sorry we didn't make it to MOMA when we were in Manhattan the other day.... Beautiful blog - I came across you through My Marrakech and will definitely be back!


Luisa Perkins said...

Holy cow. I dated a guy when I was 19 who did these and pretended he'd invented the idea. His parents were very hip, so I'm sure now that he ripped off the idea. Big poseur. How naive was I? ;)