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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Latin American artists in postwar Paris: Jesús Rafael Soto and Julio Le Parc, 1950–1970
by Brodsky, Estrellita Bograd, Ph.D., New York University, 2009, 611; 3360462
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents an alternative model for interpreting the work of Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuelan, 1923-2005) and Julio Le Parc (Argentine, b. 1928), the two foremost Latin American proponents of Kinetic art. While Soto and Le Parc are traditionally studied together within the context of their European counterparts, this investigation argues for a new way of evaluating the artists in terms of the "fragmented" aesthetic experience they provided through works produced in 1950-1970, the period during which both artists moved to Paris. This paper demonstrates that their artistic innovations were--like their radical social agendas and ideals--critical responses to Latin America's modernity. Characterized by continuous political and social upheaval, a break with traditional values, and an uncertain future, the disruptive environment they experienced in Latin America compelled the artists to pursue in Paris the primary aesthetic strategies of their work: displacement, mutability, and instability. Though they differed in approaches, Soto and Le Parc shared a utopian ideal: that art, distilled to its experiential fundamentals, could communicate directly to the viewer, without the mediation of politics or institutions.

Through analyses of specific works, archival documentation, contemporary criticism, and interviews with Soto, Le Parc, and others from their circles, this study explores the lives and work of these two artists, revealing that their summary relegation to specific movements and nationalities discounts the complex reality of their transnational experiences. The model of investigation proposed here reveals the distinct two-way reciprocity of cultural influence between Latin America and Europe, and raises questions about geographical cultural specificity. Also discussed is how the artists' identification with Paris made them suspect in the eyes of some Latin American critics. Soto and Le Parc's formative dialogues with individuals and collectives, in particular Victor Vasarely, Yves Klein, Marcel Duchamp, Los Disidentes, the Madí, Nouveaux Réalistes, group Zero, artists of Situationist International and Tucumán arde are closely examined. Ultimately, this study exposes the challenges faced by Soto and Le Parc as principal pioneers of a generation of Latin American artists who achieved success in international movements, while remaining engaged in forming a new Latin American cultural model.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lubar, Robert S., Sullivan, Edward J.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history, Art history
Keywords: Argentina, Argentine art, Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel (GRAV), Jesus Rafael Soto, Julio Le Parc, Kinetic art, Le Parc, Julio, Soto, Jesus Rafael, Venezuela, Venezuelan art
Publication Number: 3360462
ISBN: 978-1-109-25795-3
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