The New Dissidents: Defacing the Modern Myth


“These days, it feels as though we never truly left the shadow of the 1960s. The foment of political resistance and artistic experimentation has been so mythologized as to become a shorthand for any moment of revolutionary fervor, tempting us to draw parallels between that decade and our own. Part of this has to do with a certain degree of historical return. The rampant governmental corruption, socioeconomic inequity, and ecological peril of the late 2010s demand a study and a reevaluation of the tumultuous events of a half-century ago. But as we sift through the past for signals and tethers, it has become apparent that there was no singular 1960s, but multiple, competing experiences.”

During the 50s and 60s, a significant number of Venezuelan artists became associated with “Informalism,” which focused attention on improvisational methods and art’s material nature.

This artistic foment was virtually unknown in the US and was not as prevalent in European art circles as the geometric abstractions, chromatic investigations, and kinetic pieces by the likes of Cruz-Diez and Soto.

Abstract Expressionism

First called “Art Informel” by the important French art critic Michel Tapié in his 1952 book Un Art Autre — a term that covered tachisme, matter painting, Abstract Expressionism, and lyrical abstraction in the Americas, Europe, and Japan, starting in the late 1940s — “Art Informel” was influenced by Surrealism’s emphasis on chance; Dada’s use of non-art materials; the paintings of the COBRA group, which lasted from 1949 to 1951; and Jean Dubuffet’s interest in the art of children, the untaught, and the insane.

It was a term not widely embraced in the US, largely because the strong nationalist streak running through certain quarters of the US art world claimed that what was happening in Europe and Japan in the first decades after World war II was either derivative of or inferior to what was happening in New York.

Excerpt taken from Contesting Modernity: Informalism in Venezuela, 1955–1975, edited by Mari Carmen Ramírez and Tahía Rivero, and El Techo de la Ballena: Retro-Modernity in Venezuela, by María C. Gaztambide.

Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (2022) 4 (2): 114–117.


Exerpt taken from A Rescue Mission for Venezuelan Modernism, by John Yau for hyperallergic.com

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