Spiegel-Wilks Seminar: Venice Biennale

Contemporary Art in East Asia and the World


Kinetic Masters and their Legacy, Cecilia De Torres Gallery

 “Just as one composes colors, or forms, so one can compose motions.” – Alexander Calder

Cecilia De Torres gallery in Soho, New York is currently holding an exhibition dedicated to Kinetic Art by Latin American artists. The show is on until January 11th, and is called “Kinetic Masters and their Legacy”. The gallery which is known for their expertise of Latin American artists is actually more focused on Constructivism and Geometric Abstraction. However, in line with the new MoMA show, “Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction, The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift” they decided to show kinetic art; they thought this aspect was missing in the MoMA exhibition.

Cecilia De Torres was founded in 1933, aiming to promote the work of the Taller Torres-Garcia group which included artists that had been educated in Joaquin Torres-Garcia’s workshops. His educational model that started in Montevideo in 1943, focused on the education of young artists and the advance of modern art in South America. What is noticeable is that female artists were major contributors in these discussions, which is more than can be said of parallel practices in North America and Europe at the time. Cecilia De Torres dedicated forty years to research Torres-Garcia’s work and has published his catalogue raisonné. 

The exhibition shows artists who have worked from midcentury to the present day. The artists that are included in the show are Antonio Asis, Marta Chilindron, Elias Crespin, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Manuel Espinosa, Gyula Kosice, Julio Le Parc, Eduardo Mac Entyre, Jesús Rafael Soto, Luis Tomasello, Gregorio Vardanega, and Victor Vasarely. Some of these artists such as Tomasello, Cruz-Diez, Soto and Le Parc are well established and represent an older generation of artistic thinking. In addition to them, we also see up and coming artists such as Marta Clinton and Elias Crespin, whose work was the inspiration for the show.   

There is a variety of techniques, theories and materials used in Kinetic Art but all artists have a common ground in exploring ideas of optics, perception and movement. Most of the work is also heavily dependent on viewer interaction either through the position you take in facing the work or the movements you perform around the piece. 

I would like to talk a bit more about two of the artists that I have already mentioned. Marta Chilindron is an Argentinian artist who currently works in New York. She started with painting but now is concerned mostly with sculptural forms and installations. Her work explores the concept of perspective and how fluid this concept is as our perception changes constantly, both temporally and spatially. She creates colorful geometric shapes that are connected in hinges. This allows the viewer to interact with the work by changing its form or creating novel shapes. As light interacts with the colors this also creates a different iteration and shows us how open to interpretation both visual perception and geometry is. The work becomes activated by the viewer or light, is manipulated and finally stabilized. This loop continues endlessly. 

Elias Crespin is from Venezuela but he lives in Paris. He was recently commissioned by the Louvre to create an installation to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Pyramid. Crespin’s parents were mathematicians and he studied Computer Science at university. This makes sense as he uses algorithms and geometric shapes in his work to create moving patterns, suspended in midair. There is a constant shift of each individual piece which is dictated by code that he programmed. These shapes also interact with light, producing patterns on the walls. The fact that the work is controlled by an application he has coded, allows him to control how galleries display his work. There are very few settings and the mere fact that not many gallerists know how to code, leaves the control in the hands of the artist.  

Eda Ozuner

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