Brief story about our heritage
From the very first day of his appointment as Director of the Museo de Arte Moderno, Rafael Squirru set out to create a museum collection through donations and acquisitions. He immediately began to focus on contemporary art, supporting avant garde artists making new, ground-breaking work. Little by little, he started to organize exhibitions by these artists and to acquire works that would then become a part of the Moderno’s collection. In 1959 the museum began to receive its first donations from Uruguayan artists and to acquire works by Alberto Greco, Kenneth Kemble, Luis Alberto Wells, Luis Felipe Noé, Miguel Ángel Vidal, Eduardo Mac Entyre, Raquel Forner and Antonio Berni, among many others.
In 1963, Hugo Parpagnoli took over the directorship of the Museo and continued Squirru’s mission: to encourage the addition of works that represented modern artistic ideas to the collection. As part of this concept, he bought a large number of engravings by Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Hans Arp, Miró, Picabia, Paul Klee, Marc Chagal and Salvador Dalí. The collection was also swelled with a large number of artworks by Argentinian artists, including pieces by Alberto Heredia, Juan Carlos Castagnino, León Ferrari, Víctor Magariños, Manolo Millares, Emilio Renart, Rubén Santantonín, Ernesto Deira and Jorge de la Vega. Parpagnoli’s administration also oversaw the receipt of donations from the Fondo Nacional de las Artes.
The Museo’s collection continued to expand over the following decades. During Guillermo Whitelow’s first period as director (1971-1973) the Museo received a donation of 200 works by the artist Luis Seoane and a donation from the Ministry of Culture of works by Juan Del Prete, Eduardo Mac Entyre and Aldo Paparella.
During his second period as director, between 1980 and 1981, Whitelow (1977-1983) received the donation of the collection assembled by Dr. Ignacio Pirovano, made by his sister Doña Josefina Pirovano de Mihura. Consisting of a total of 59 works of modern art by artists from Argentina and overseas, the collection included seven Vantongerloos, an Albers, and silk-screens by Mondrian, Picabia and other artists, which were often bought on the advice of Tomás Maldonado. “I’ve thought hard about your collection and I’m excited by the idea that it might provide the foundation for our future Museo de Arte Moderno” (letter from Tomás Maldonado to Ignacio Pirovano dated 14 July, 1954).
Whitelow was also able to acquire a significant group of paintings by the artists Ricardo Garabito, Diana Dowek, Guillermo Kuitca, Julián Althbe and Juan Batlle Planas, among others.
In the year 2000, under the directorship of Laura Buccellato, the Museo received a legacy from Alberto Heredia: a body of 500 works by the artist, works by other Argentine artists and other pieces found in his flat. A catalogue of his library, documentary archive and personal objects has just been added to the Museo’s historical archive.
In later years, on the advice of Ricardo Blanco (1940- 2017), the Collection of Industrial and Graphic Design was assembled and negotiations are currently underway to receive the donation of the set of works presented in the exhibition Últimas Tendencias (Latest Trends, 2002).
The Museo de Arte Moderno Collection is continuing to grow. Recently, under the management of Victoria Noorthoorn, the Museo has received several major donations. In 2014, the Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari Arte y Acervo donated 72 works on paper by León Ferrari. In 2018, the Museo received another generous donation from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (CPPC) – one of the biggest collections of Latin American art in the world with headquarters in Caracas and New York – consisting of eight artworks: Secure paradise (2007) by Judi Werthein; Poema volcánico (Volcanic Poem, 2014), an installation by the artist Eduardo Navarro; Garimpo (2009), a charcoal on paper by Matías Duville; Cascada and 241 intersecciones (Waterfall and 241 Intersections, 1998), two drawings in graphite on paper by Ernesto Ballesteros; Un mes lunar (A Lunar Month) 2004-2007 and Frente a los cerrojos (In Front of Keyholes) 2004-2006, two watercolours by Alejandro Corujeira and an acrylic piece on wood, Sin título (Untitled) from 1994 by Elisabet Sánchez.
The Museo de Arte Moderno is advised by the art historians Marcelo Pacheco and María Amalia García who, together with the curatorial team at the Moderno, take an active role in the research and assessment of acquisitions and donations.