For months, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) had been looking fairly lonely in San Telmo while its older, more-established neighbor was undergoing a much-needed expansion and facelift. However, the Museo de Arte Moderno (MAMBA) is back with a vengeance, re-opening its doors with a remarkable new exhibition that reminds us of everything that we were missing while it was under renovation.
El @modernoba celebra su reinauguración con la muestra Historia de Dos Mundos, un diálogo entre las obras canónicas de Europa y EEUU y obras experimentales latinoamericanas. >> https://t.co/Gz6jJGS9QX pic.twitter.com/xi3OSOMvnP
— DisfrutemosBA (@DisfrutemosBA) July 24, 2018
Historia de dos mundos (A Tale of Two Worlds) is the fruit of a collaboration between the Moderno and the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt’s contemporary art museum, and contains work from over 100 artists and collectives from the United States, Europe, and Latin America. First shown in Frankfurt from November 25th until April of this year, it now falls to the MAMBA to host this remarkable exhibition.
It was curated by MAMBA’s director and senior curator, Victoria Noorthoorn and Javier Villa, in conjunction with Klaus Görner, curator for the MMK. Comprising 500 artworks, this monumental exhibition occupies the entirety of the museum’s newly-expanded space. It’s definitely part of the strategy to come back with a bang, as the museum has set sights on operating on a much larger scale moving forward.
The exhibition aims to establish a dialogue between two different currents in contemporary art: the canonical pieces of the genre in Western Europe and the United States, displayed alongside experimental works from Latin American artistic movements in an original and ambitious collaboration. It features pieces from the big names of the international contemporary art scene, including Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, and Yves Klein, sensitively hung alongside works from home-grown talent, such as Marta Minujín, Víctor Grippo, and León Ferrari.
The MMK’s collection is mostly represented by the Western European and North American art of the 1960s and 70s, but the Latin American art on display has a wider scope, spanning from 1944, the year of the first exhibitions by the Concrete Art movement in Argentina, to the late 1980s and the end of the continent’s period of military dictatorships. It explores the experimental movements challenging the established foundations of Latin American art through a period of political and social turmoil.
The exhibition dominates the space. The works occupy all four floors of the Moderno and are structured around 16 central themes, such as ‘Alchemy and Colonization,’ ‘Political Alphabets, Poetic Alphabets,’ and ‘Distant Worlds: The Latin American Utopias in Post-War Europe,’ any one of which could have made a fascinating standalone exhibition, but have been combined into a timeline of artistic movements and creation.
Each theme features works from both museums and serves to explore the way that Latin American and European-American artistic currents operated in parallel yet had points of overlap, the way that they each had an autonomous identity but shared artistic interests and intellectual concerns, all of which counterpointed with the points of contrast, particularly those emerging from the starkly different political and historical contexts of the periods explored.
The decades covered by the exhibition include some of the most experimental and daring moments in contemporary art, with the emergence of avant-garde movements defined by their relentless pursuit of the new. From Pop Art to Monochrome, Conceptual Expressionism to Performance Art, the exhibition is a thorough consideration of artistic endeavor and regional trends. It explores the way that artists saw their role in society and reacted to the fraught socio-political contexts of the twentieth century, considering the role that art can play in transforming a broken society.
This is the first exhibition that the MAMBA has hosted since it reopened in July; the museum’s building is finally complete, 62 years after it was first founded (the art world has never been renowned for its efficiency). Renovations began in 2005 and have considerably enlarged the building to include new rooms, a café, lifts, and double the number of exhibition rooms, allowing the Moderno to showcase on a much larger scale.
In addition to representing a new era for the museum, the show is representative of a national trend. This collaboration with Frankfurt is further proof of Buenos Aires’ standing as a new international capital for contemporary art. The Argentine capital will become the first Art Basel International City in November of this year, and has a flourishing art market, particularly through events such as the well-established annual arteBA art fair. Collaborative shows such as this open up the merits of Argentine contemporary art to a whole new audience, providing a door to a world that until recently was fairly inaccessible for international collectors.
Historia de dos mundos is on at Museo de Arte Moderno (Av. San Juan 350) until October 14th. Entrance is AR $30 and free on Tuesdays. The museum is open from 11 AM until 7 PM from Tuesday to Friday, and 11 AM to 8PM on weekends and bank holidays.