THE SCULPTURES OF GONZALO FONSECA

The Noguchi Museum presents a retrospective exhibition of the sculptural work of Gonzalo Fonseca (1922–97), a major figure in the development of modern Latin American art who created some of the most enchanting sculptures of his day. The exhibition encompasses some 80 objects, primarily works in stone from the mid-1960s to the 1990s, complemented by selected drawings and sketchbooks.

The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca is organized in partnership with the Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca and curated by Senior Curator Dakin Hart. It is the first museum exhibition of Fonseca’s work in New York since 1971.

Trained as a painter, Fonseca was among a group of exceptional artists who emerged from the theory-rich studio of Uruguayan modernist Joaquín Torres-García in the 1940s. He became a sculptor in the mid-1960s, when the language of forms he had invented in two dimensions seems finally to have demanded development in three. Working first in found limestone, brownstone, and sandstone in New York City, and later, additionally, in a wide variety of marbles in Italy—in the same stone-working community as Isamu Noguchi—he produced wall reliefs, freestanding structures, and sculptures.

A voracious polymath, Fonseca steeped himself in the natural sciences, linguistics, and history, and his sculptures often feel synthesized from, or like an index to, the contents of the lost Library of Alexandria. They are complex fictions: at once playful and serious, austere and whimsical, childlike and, above all, archetypal. Fonseca was interested in the commonalities among Earth’s civilizations, and in how they might be abstracted in a universal vocabulary of forms. In a sense, he spent his entire life reverse engineering the Tower of Babel, that great symbol of human ambition, pluralism, and impermanence. But though the sculptures appear inextricably connected to the ancient world, their intent is more postmodern than archaeological. To encounter them is to enter, as one does at The Noguchi Museum, a virtual encyclopedia of ideas about the relationship between space, place, and human understanding.

 

Membra Disjecta: Gonzalo Fonseca and the Heart of Stone is a documentary portrait of an artist who embodied the entire history of world art – and an artist who history has all but forgotten.

 

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