This is a monumental exhibition conceived and curated by the director of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Victoria Noorthoorn, the Moderno’s Senior Curator Javier Villa, and the curator of the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (MMK), Klaus Görner. Having opened on 24 November 2017 at the MMK in Frankfurt it will run to 2 April 2018, after which it will be moving to Buenos Aires, where it will run between July and October, taking up the entire expanded Moderno building.
The exhibition places masterpieces from the Frankfurt collection in a deep and meaningful dialogue with key works of Latin American art from the past five decades, made between 1940 and 1989. In all, there will be 500 artworks from private and public collections made by 117 artists and collectives from Latin America, the USA and Europe.
This exhibition is a landmark event: it is the first time that a European collection with prominent, canonical works from the history of western art has been reconsidered from the perspective of the history of art in Latin America.
The MMK collection thus becomes fertile ground for debate and exploration of the different languages, strategies and ideological positions that have arisen during the passage from modern to contemporary art made by artists from Latin America, the United States and Europe. This transition is reflected in the different intellectual discourses and coincidences between artists from different latitudes as well as the various contrasts, challenges and tensions throughout their distinct histories. The conceptual framework identifies surprising new parallels between artists from the different continents who may have had little contact with one another but whose work went along similar lines, as can be seen, for instance, with Lygia Clark and Franz Erhard Walther. Meanwhile, some artists shared cities, periods and conceptual approaches, as was the case with artists such as Alberto Greco, Yves Klein, Ben Vautier and Piero Manzoni. Other artists, like León Ferrari and Tomás Bayrle, shared notable similarities but never met, while still others enjoyed an enriching antagonistic relationship such as that seen between Beatriz González and Claes Oldenburg. The exhibition offers many examples of on-going, enlightening dialogue between two worlds that benefitted the cultural identity of both continents under the premise that a large part of our identity is based on how we position ourselves, talk to one another and think about the other.
Both the artists and their cultural contexts have been in constant dialogue from the post-war period onwards but it is rare that histories of art written in the north acknowledge this exchange or the way they have mutually influenced one another. A Tale of Two Worlds is thus a means of setting the record straight and also offers the potential to bring a wealth of new ideas to European and North American discourse about art in Latin America. The exhibition positions Latin American art not as a footnote in artistic discourses focusing on the north but as a central feature of artistic practice, offering innovative and complex new ideas that illuminate the history of art, answering a vital need to shift the focus away from programmatic approaches and back to specific contexts.