In a salute to the San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial: Latin America and the Caribbean, Museo de Arte de Ponce inaugurated two important exhibitions: Art in Response: Luis Camnitzer and Emilio Sanchez: Light, Line, and Shadow. These striking exhibits have been made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works program, the Fondo Nacional para el Financiamiento del Quehacer Cultural, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, and the Oficina de Apoyo a las Artes y al Quehacer Cultural.
Art in Response:Luis Camnitzer (April 14, 2012 August 27, 2012)
Art in Response is an innovative project in which Museo de Arte de Ponce invites distinguished contemporary artists to create a work or series of works inspired by pieces in the museums permanent collection of European art. The final product is revealed as a counterpoint in the same gallery as the art work that inspired it. The first artist invited to take part in this program is Luis Camnitzer. Born in Lübeck, Germany, in 1937; raised in Montevideo, Uruguay, and moved to New York City in 1964, Camnitzer has distinguished himself not just as an artist but also as a critic, educator, and art theorist. During his early career, in the sixties and seventies, he was one of a group known as the American Conceptualists. Over the last fifty years he has developed an oeuvre that is uniquely his own, a remarkable body of work that invites reflection, analysis, and debate on systems of power. His work is owned by some of the most important collections in the world and hangs in such institutions as the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Museo del Barrio, to name just a few.
Camnitzer is recognized as one of the pillars of Conceptual art in Latin America and the world. Conceptual art emerged in the sixties. One of its first (and most provocative) proponents was the brilliant French artist Marcel Duchamp, who famously said that the concept was more important than the object created. One of the principal characteristics of Conceptual art is that it downplays the importance given to the works optical impact in favor of the intellectual processes that are triggered in viewers minds by the artists creation.
Camnitzer visited Puerto Rico in early March this year to choose his source of inspiration from Museo de Arte de Ponces permanent collection artworks. He spent hours contemplating masterpieces in the European collection, and finally selected the gallery called Stories of Love and Loss, where Konstantin Makovskys work Choosing the Bride is portrayed to visitors. This piece inspired Camnitzer to propose a response that would deal with the issue of violence against women. Other important works in this gallery are also reinterpreted by Camnitzer, and for these re-imaginings he employs such non-traditional techniques as projecting images onto unusual surfaces, multiple compositions, and other surprising strategies.
Art in Response is a very important link in the chain of possibilities, efforts, and achievements that we use in guiding the Museo de Arte de Ponce into a new era. It will interweave the beauty and importance of our European works of art with the most innovative work being done within the infinite panorama of contemporary art, explained Dr. Agustín Arteaga, the museums chief executive officer and director. The Art in Response program encourages collaborations between artists and the Museo de Arte de Ponce, and it invites comparison of works of art from differing periodsa search for connectionsthat will allow a better understanding of artists visions down through time. Luis Camnitzer has made a remarkable contribution to this effort.
Currently, the museums European collection is organized thematically: landscapes; portraits; masters of light and emotion; Vanitas, or the fleeting nature of life; and classical mythology, to name just a few. Art in Response will be integrated into that thematic schema in a way to stimulate a visual tour through time via the various counterpoints in the Museums galleries. This unique exhibition forms a continuum with this organizational scheme that encourages a visual journey through time via. This play of dualities is intended to engage audiences of varying artistic preferences; it will lead that audience particularly interested in the work of the Old Masters to experience contemporary works, while offering those visitors fundamentally interested in contemporary art the opportunity to see the work of classical painters from a new perspective, notes María Arlette de la Serna, the museums assistant curator.
Emilio Sanchez: Light, Line, and Shadow (April 14, 2012 April 15, 2013)
The second premiere at Museo de Arte de Ponce is Emilio Sanchez: Light, Line, and Shadow. The occasion for this show is the donation of over 400 art works made to the museum by the Emilio Sanchez Foundation. Sanchez, who died in 1999, was born in Camagüey, Cuba, in 1921. He lived in Havana from 1932 to 1952, when he moved permanently to New York City. A tireless traveler, Sanchez felt a special attraction for Morocco, an exotic destination whose architectural lines and shapes became a hallmark of his work, as did the vibrant colors of the Caribbean, particularly Puerto Rico and the grays and severe geometry of the urban landscape of the Bronx.
Sanchez was a prolific artist in such media as painting, prints, and drawing. In 1972, he won first prize in the 3rd San Juan Biennial of Latin American Printsjust one of a number of important prizes he garnered in international competitions. His work figures in the collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, and the MoMA in New York City.
A successful career allowed him to found the Emilio Sanchez Foundation, whose major goal is to raise funds for research in eye disease, since Sanchez labored under a severe loss of vision his entire life. In his later years, this condition led to total blindness in one of his eyes, though it never prevented him from continuing to paint.
In his will, Sanchez asked that his work be donated to institutions of recognized prestige in order to ensure its preservation and bring it to the knowledge and enjoyment of a wide public. The Museo de Arte de Ponce was selected from among an impressive list of art institutions as the recipient of this major donation. "We had the opportunity to learn about Emilio Sanchez deep love for Puerto Rico which harmonizes with having found in this Island an institution of the esteem of Museo de Arte de Ponce with an admirable profile of sustained work on behalf of the culture and art. We are confident the spread of Emilio Sanchez legacy stays in suitable hands, said Anne Knoll, Executive Director of the Foundation Emilio Sanchez.
Sanchez always loved landscape and architecture. Although his work includes still-lifes and other subjects, it is recognized especially for its landscapes, in which the contrast between light and shadow, and the geometric patterns, whether forced or accidental, that result from them, are major features. This visual impact was also explored by Sanchez in the Caribbean, in Morocco, and in the rigid outlines of the city. His figurative work evolved, little by little, into a very personal abstraction in which Sanchez gradually stripped away all unnecessary elements, emphasizing the geometry and the play of planes in search of the purest essence. According to his critics, Emilio Sanchez never really embraced the idea of abstraction identified with the New York School, a comment that reaffirms the fact that Sanchez created his own abstract iconography.
This slow transition toward abstraction is precisely the theme of the exhibit Emilio Sanchez: Light, Line, and Shadow. A sequential tour of Sanchez work will allow visitors to the museum to see the metamorphosis of everyday elements into a more abstract idiom and symbolism, and this might, in turn, lead viewers to look a little more closely at abstraction, but from the point of view of Sanchez particular genius, noted María Arlette de la Serna, the Museo de Arte de Ponces assistant curator.
The exhibitions Art in Response: Luis Camnitzer and Emilio Sanchez: Light, Line, and Shadow run parallel to the 3rd San Juan Poly/Graphic Triennial: Latin America and the Caribbean, an international art event that highlights experimental practices in contemporary art, with an emphasis on prints and their many manifestations, generally works on paper.
For further information go to www.museoarteponce.org
or call 787-840-1510 or 787-848-0505.