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León Ferrari, Gego, and Liliana Porter

The Cleveland Museum of Art Announces Stellar Group of New Acquisitions 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Kelley Notaro Schreiber

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland, OH (October 16, 2019)—Recent acquisitions by the Cleveland Museum of Art include a monumental 18th-century Chinese landscape painting; a 16th-century Mannerist painting by Maso da San Friano; 38 photographs of the Indian Rebellion; a selection of works on paper by influential Latin American artists; and a contemporary sculpture by celebrated artist Simone Leigh.


Latin American Works on Paper

The museum has acquired several works on paper by Latin American artists, bringing greater geographic diversity to the collection of prints and drawings. Central to the group is a watercolor by Afro-Cuban artist Wifredo Lam (1902–1982). Lam combined the influences of European avant-garde movements, such as Cubism and Surrealism, with Cuban symbolism and imagery to create his own distinctive style. After working alongside Pablo Picasso and André Breton in Paris during the late 1930s, Lam returned to his native Cuba in 1941. The newly acquired watercolor (1947) dates to this period when Lam immersed himself in Cuban culture and produced an innovative body of work. 

Inspired by the supernatural elements of religious practices in Cuba, the drawing features fantastical winged creatures, a subject that recurred throughout the artist’s work during years that are widely considered his most formative and creative. 

A drawing by the influential Argentinian artist León Ferrari (1920–2013) was also acquired. Influenced by Minimalist and Conceptual Art movements and political turmoil in his native country during the 1960s, Ferrari made a series of drawings that he referred to as “written paintings,” which used abstract ink marks to suggest handwritten text. Based on news articles about local violence, Ferrari’s 1976 composition, Untitled, a pen-and-ink drawing, mirrored the frustration of artistic expression under a repressive regime. The artist’s estate has also made a gift of a late drawing and an example of Ferrari’s printmaking, allowing the museum to fully represent the artist’s career. 

The museum also acquired a lithograph by German-born Venezuelan artist Gego (1912–1994) who was central to the kinetic art movement that began in Caracas during the 1960s and emphasized geometry and bold colors. Based on her experience creating the 1966 print Untitled at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, Gego founded her own print shop in Caracas to encourage experimental printmaking in Venezuela. 

Finally, the museum acquired a 1968 etching with embroidery by the Argentinian artist Liliana Porter (b. 1941). Man (To Be Embroidered) features a man’s silhouette with three-dimensional embroidery, contrasting this technique’s feminine associations with the image itself. 

The works are the first by Ferrari, Gego and Porter to enter the CMA’s collection. Along with the newly acquired Lam watercolor, all will be featured next spring in an exhibition focused on Latin American prints and drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  

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