Tarsila do Amaral
óleo sobre lienzo
Malba - Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires.
© 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / AUTVIS, São Paolo
Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
The exhibition is part of an ongoing artistic exchange between the MFAH and Malba, a partnership formed in 2005. Founded by collector Eduardo F. Costantini in 2001, Malba is the only museum in South America dedicated to collecting and exhibiting Latin American art from 1900 to the present. The Houston exhibition, curated by Mari Carmen Ramírez, MFAH Wortham Curator of Latin American Art and Director of the MFAH International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), features artists well known in South America’s Southern Cone but new to many North American audiences.
“Displaying Latin American masterpieces from Malba furthers the goal of the MFAH to recognize the original contributions of Latin American artists to Modernism, and to expose the public to this legacy,” said Mari Carmen Ramírez, the MFAH curator. “This is a unique chance to see ‘textbook examples’ of major Latin American masterpieces here in the U.S.,” said MFAH Director Gary Tinterow. “Modern and Contemporary Masterworks from Malba - Fundación Costantini will include works by many of the key avant-garde Latin American artists who pioneered modern art in their respective countries or participated in the principal European movements.”
A major highlight of the exhibition is a 1928 painting central to Brazilian national identity: Tarsila do Amaral’s "Abaporu". Amaral was a leading Latin American Modernist painter who lived and worked in Paris and São Paulo. An early Cubist work by Diego Rivera, widely considered among the greatest painters of the 20th century, is another exhibition highlight. Monumental scenes of workers’ lives by Cândido Portinari, one of the most important Brazilian artists working in the 1930s in the Social Realist style, will be on view, as will the work of Argentine artist Alfredo Guttero, who is virtually unknown in the United States but is renowned for the unique textures he achieved in his work.
The well-recognized face of Frida Kahlo also makes an appearance. Kahlo’s Autorretrato con chango y loro (Self-portrait with Monkey and Parrot) (1942) is a classic late work, showing the artist surrounded by two of her favorite pets. The acquisition of this painting by Costantini in 1995 for approximately $3.2 million (at that time the highest amount paid for a work by Kahlo), catapulted both Kahlo’s reputation and Costantini’s art collection to international attention.