Amon Carter Museum features North and South American Abstract Art in Groundbreaking Exhibition

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Tracy Greene
Public Information Officer
817.989.5067

Jessica Poole
Public Information Coordinator
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Release date: 
April 8, 2010

FORT WORTH, Texas–On June 26, the Amon Carter Museum presents Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–50s. This groundbreaking exhibition is the first to bring together South American and U.S. geometric abstraction and includes a range of paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, drawings and films. Constructive Spirit will be on view through September 5; admission is free.

Featuring 85 works by more than 65 abstract artists from Argentina, Brazil, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, this special exhibition organized by the Newark Museum (Newark, N.J.) provides a fresh and innovative look at modernism in the Americas during a dynamic and cosmopolitan period. The exhibition begins with the arrival of Joaquín Torres-García in New York City in 1920 and culminates in the 1950s, as North and South American abstract artists converged in international exhibition venues such as the Bienal de São Paulo.

Constructive Spirit includes works by renowned artists including Joaquín Torres-García, Arshile Gorky, Gyula Kosice and Jesús Rafael Soto, as well as artists who deserve much wider recognition, such as Geraldo de Barros, Lidy Prati and Charmion von Wiegand. Largely drawn from the Newark Museum’s superb collection of U.S. geometric abstraction, the exhibition also includes major works on loan from acclaimed private and public collections across both continents, such as Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Malba-Costantini Foundation (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and Whitney Museum of American Art.

“By bringing together artists that are typically separated from one another in historical accounts, the exhibition suggests both conceptual and aesthetic parallels that cut across time, national borders and media,” says Mary Kate O’Hare, associate curator of American art at the Newark Museum and the exhibition’s curator. “Artists in both South and North America worked with a pictorial and sculptural vocabulary of simplified shapes that make little or no reference to the natural world. Together, their work demonstrates the flexibility of the geometric language, revealing its capacity for both systemic and intuitive approaches to abstraction as well as a broad range of goals spanning the spiritual to the political.”

According to Rebecca Lawton, curator of paintings and sculpture at the Amon Carter Museum, the exhibition also provides thought-provoking parallels to the Carter’s collection. “Since Constructive Spirit includes works by artists such as Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis and Louise Nevelson, among others who are represented in our permanent collection, the exhibition expands our understanding of their work. We see how the artists, who adopted the hard-edge lines and geometric forms of constructive abstract art, operated on an international playing field.”

In conjunction with the exhibition, four short, avant-garde films by Mary Ellen Bute and Dwinell Grant will be shown in the museum’s auditorium every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. (except July 4, July 10 and August 8). Groups may schedule private screenings by contacting 817.989.5030 or education@cartermuseum.org. Public tours for the special exhibition occur at 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. No reservations are required.

This exhibition was organized by the Newark Museum with major support by the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Johnson & Johnson and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York. The local presentation is supported in part by the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Promotional support is provided by Star-Telegram, WFAA and American Airlines.

Public Programs: Admission is free.

Saturday, July 10, 1–4 p.m.
My Kid Could Do That: Demystifying Abstract Art
Adult Workshop
Sara Klein, Teacher and School Programs Manager, Amon Carter Museum

Think your kid could do that? Think again! While exploring abstract art, gain an understanding of how to view and discuss nonobjective art and why it is significant. This adult workshop features two presenters, a guided look at the exhibition Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–50s, an art activity and light refreshments.

Admission is free, but because seating is limited, reservations are required. Call 817.989.5030 or e-mail education@cartermuseum.org to register.

Thursday, July 29, 6 p.m.
The Maker, Not the Muse
Gallery Talk
Rebecca Lawton, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture

Discover the female artists in the exhibition Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920s–50s. During this in-gallery discussion, the Carter’s curator of paintings and sculpture will discuss the artists’ contributions to Geometric Abstraction in the Americas. No reservations are required.

Sunday, August 8, 1–4 p.m.
International Adventure
Family Funday

Families can discover international art at an American art museum! Travel across South and North America as you navigate the galleries, explore abstract artworks, and learn Spanish and Portuguese vocabulary. Special performances, art-making activities, storytime and refreshments round out the afternoon of exciting activities the whole family can enjoy. Family Fundays are made possible by The Junior League of Fort Worth, Inc. and Alcon. No reservations are required.

Thursday, August 26, 6 p.m.
Abstraction, Avant-Garde and the Silver Screen
Film Screening and Discussion

Discover how abstraction is captured in avant-garde film and on the silver screen. This program offers a special look at four short, avant-garde films by Mary Ellen Bute and Dwinell Grant from the exhibition Constructive Spirit: Abstract Art in South and North America, 1920–50s followed by a screening of Busby Berkeley’s feature film Dames (1934), known for its abstract choreography.

Admission is free, but because seating is limited, reservations are required. Call 817.989.5030 or e-mail education@cartermuseum.org to register.

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