For Latin American artists, the practice of traveling to Europe to see first-hand the great masterpieces they had only learned about in books was well established by the early years of the twentieth century. When these artists arrived in Europe, they learned about the Cubist, Futurist, Dada, and Expressionist avant-gardes. As they tried to reconcile their interest in traditional art with modern movements advocating a radical departure from the art of the past, they often experienced a moment of creative crisis. The new art they formulated was not always well received in their home countries, where critics and audiences tended to be more conservative. In Argentina, these pioneers were seen as scandalous but their art helped modernize the local art scene.
Pablo Curatella Manes
La Plata, Argentina, 1891 - 1962, Buenos Aires
El guitarrista [The Guitarist]
Bronze with black patina
34.3 cm x 22.5 cm x 18.4 cm (13 1/2 in. x 8 7/8 in. x 7 1/4 in.)
Archer M. Huntington Museum Fund, 1982
Like many Argentine artists of his generation, Pablo Curatella Manes lived in Europe and immersed himself in the avant-garde. His admiration for both Renaissance art and Cubist sculpture led him to find his own artistic voice. In "The Guitarist," one of his first Cubist works, Curatella Manes transformed musician and instrument into a series of clearly defined yet simplified geometric solids. The artist sought a modern classicism, balancing figuration and abstraction, solidity and movement. The apparent heaviness of the bronze makes the figure stable, while the distribution of volumes follows a syncopated rhythm that reinforces the musical theme.
Untitled, 1929-1930 (detail)
Watercolor over pencil on paper mounted on cardboard
The Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
Gift of John and Barbara Duncan, 1971