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Blanton Museum announces major gift of modern and contemporary Latin American art
Jesús Rafael Soto (Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, 1923 – Paris, 2004), Rombo cobalto [Cobalt Rhombus], 1968 Paint on wood mounted to fiberboard with metal and monofilament 55.5 x 55.5 x 9.8 in (141 x 141 x 24.9 cm)© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

AUSTIN, TX.- The Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin has been gifted approximately 120 modern and contemporary Latin American artworks from UT alumni Judy and Charles Tate of Houston. In addition, the Tates have made a major contribution towards the endowment that supports the museum’s Latin American curatorship. Their collection—the entirety of which will ultimately come to the Blanton—includes painting, drawing, prints, sculpture, and mixed media works by artists Tarsila do Amaral, Lygia Clark, Frida Kahlo, Carlos Mérida, Wifredo Lam, Armando Reverón, Diego Rivera, Alejandro Xul Solar, and Joaquín Torres-García, among others. Spanning the early 20th century to the present, it features many of the artists who were key to the creation of modernism in Latin America. The endowment gift adds to the Tates’ past contributions to the Blanton’s Latin American art program and reaffirms their commitment to endowment building as an institutional priority.

“With this gift, Charles and Judy have once again made a hugely valuable contribution to the life of UT Austin,” remarked UT President William Powers. “This gift will continue to put us at the forefront as one of the country’s best museums for Latin American art and will provide many new opportunities for students, faculty, and art historians. The Tates are role models for their leadership and commitment, and I thank them.”

“Judy and Charles Tate have been visionary partners in ensuring that their alma mater remains intrinsic to the international conversation on modern and contemporary Latin American art,” added Blanton Director Simone Wicha. “A great museum is built on the foundation of a great collection and the strength of its endowment. As the Blanton continues to grow and play a larger role on campus, the community, and beyond, so too must the museum’s holdings, and this extraordinary collection will enrich our students’ and visitors’ lives. The Tates’ investment in the endowment also will ensure many new opportunities for research and scholarship for future generations. The combination of these gifts will enhance the Blanton’s position as an institution of learning, and its impact on the field of Latin American art.”

For over fifteen years, the Tates have built a collection that complements the museum’s existing holdings of more than 2,100 Latin American objects. Highlights include: an ethereal painting by Armando Reverón from the 1920s; a 1946 graphite drawing by Frida Kahlo and a cubist period drawing by Diego Rivera; two paintings and an ink drawing by Wifredo Lam spanning his time in France in the late 1930s to his return to Cuba in the 1940s; a 1951 surrealist painting by Leonora Carrington; a 1953 glass mosaic by Carlos Mérida—a playful fusion of abstraction and figuration; mid-20th-century kinetic and concrete works by important artists Jesús Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Lygia Clark, Willys de Castro, Lothar Charoux, Mira Schendel, and Hélio Oiticica; and contemporary works by Fernando Botero, Waltercio Caldas, Jorge Macchi, Sebastián Gordín, and Tunga.

The Tate collection will introduce many new artists to the Blanton, as well as strengthen the museum’s examples of modern and postwar artistic innovation from Latin America. It also builds upon the museum’s rich legacy of exhibitions and scholarship in the field of Latin American art. The Blanton was the first museum in the United States to establish (in 1988) a curatorial position devoted solely to Latin American art. Exhibitions including Re-Aligning Vision: Alternative Currents in South American Drawing (1997), The Geometry of Hope: Latin American Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (2007), Recovering Beauty: The 1990s in Buenos Aires (2011), and The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas (2013) presented new scholarship and introduced (in some instances, for the first time in the U.S.) these important artists to new audiences.

One of the first major Latin American traveling exhibitions produced by the museum was El Taller Torres-Garcia: The School of the South and its Legacy (1992). The Tates have collected extensively from this group of artists, including a painting and two drawings by Joaquín Torres-García in his characteristic universal constructivist style as well as works by many of the School of the South students, including Francisco Matto, Julio Alpuy, and José Gurvich. The works by these artists will bolster the Blanton’s holdings from this period.

From September 20, 2014 – February 15, 2015, the Blanton will present a selection of approximately 70 works from the collection. Entitled La línea continua, the exhibition takes its name from an elegant sculpture from the collection by Enio Iommi: a stainless steel “line” that traces an infinite loop in space. The work is also a fitting metaphor for the continual and nourishing connection between Judy and Charles Tate, the University of Texas, and the Blanton Museum of Art.

A fully-illustrated catalogue of the Tate gift will be published in fall 2014, with a preface by UT President William Powers; Blanton Director Simone Wicha in conversation with Judy and Charles Tate; an essay by Blanton Curator of Latin American Art Beverly Adams, and short pieces by UT Art and Art History graduate students.

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