Ángel Duarte. Mathematics and social change

One of the most outstanding figures of geometric abstraction and whose role was fundamental for the internationalization of Spanish art.

From 15th of December 2022 to 12th of February2023

Ángel Duarte Museo Helga de Alvear

Geometric abstraction, based on the aesthetic assumptions of the avant-garde movements, was one of the lines that in the 1950s of the 20th century allowed Spanish art to be updated and synchronized with the international context. Ángel Duarte (Aldeanueva del Camino, Cáceres, 1930 – Sion, Switzerland, 2007) was the undisputed protagonist of this process and the exhibition we present here is an exercise to affirm his place in the national and international context, during and after his participation in Equipo 57 It also wishes to acknowledge the generosity of Helga de Alvear who, with her recent acquisition of the works deposited by the artist’s family in the Pérez Comendador-Leroux Museum in Hervás, has enabled this legacy to remain in Extremadura.

Duarte’s interest in geometric abstraction in the mid-1950s gave way to the rigour of mathematics and the physics of perception, thus meeting the spatial interests of the future members of Equipo 57 (1957-1962), with whose production this exhibition begins. Together, they would turn these normative principles into a means of political protest and social action through collective work and the use of industrial materials and techniques, multiple works, and furniture design.

After the official dissolution of the group in 1966, Duarte asserted himself as a sculptor and continued to develop the theories of the interactivity of plastic space and the minimal units of movement, adopting the hyperbolic paraboloid as the module par excellence with which to approach spatial multiplicity and non-Euclidean hyperbolic geometry. A path along which he moves steadily towards the optical and kinetic, introducing the temporal dimension and thus placing an active and participatory role in the viewer. These questions become visible in the exhibition through the large group of sculptures and engravings that he updates with the use of glass, acetate, and light to achieve new dimensional and kinetic effects.

Since the mid-1960s, his work progressed, maintaining his firm social commitment, and deepening the assumptions that have animated it since the end of the 1950s with the most recent crystallographic, topological, gestalt, phenomenological, mathematical, and geometric theories.

Ángel Duarte completes this trajectory with a magnificent production of public art (1970-2005), of which in this exhibition we present some models, in the light of which the lightness, transparency and dynamism of the sculptures on display acquire new readings, richer formally and socially, if we think of them on a large scale and in their corporal and perceptive relationship with the viewer.

María Jesús Ávila

Doctor in Art History from the University of Extremadura in 1995 with a thesis on Ortega Muñoz, which formed the basis for the book of the same title published by Caja Badajoz. She was a lecturer in the Department of Art History of the University of Extremadura (1995-1999) and of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2005-2006). From 1994-2007 she was Curator of the Museu do Chiado-Museo Nacional de Art Contemporânea and of the Culturgest in Lisboa. From there, she organised a number of individual exhibitions such as Rolando Sá Nogueira, Mário Eloy, Heim Semke, Ana Hatherly, and collective exhibitions such as Primeiros Modernismos em Portugal, A cor como experiência, Surrealismo em Portugal 1934-1952 and 1960-1980 Anos de normalização artística nas colecções do Museu do Chiado. She was a member of the curator team of the Art Contemporáneo fair, Foro Sur, in Cáceres.

She has done research work and has collaborated with texts in catalogues and journals about Portuguese art and artists: António Pedro, Jose de Almada Negreiros, Jorge Vieira, Ângela Ferreira, Susanne Themlitz and Augusto Alves da Silva. She has also worked on the three volumes of the catalogue of the collections of the Museu do Chiado (2011-2013).

She is a co-author of the first catalogues raisonnés produced in Portugal: Joaquim Rodrigo and Julião Sarmento. Edições numeradas. She has published research work on Spanish-Portuguese relations during the 20th century in specialist journals and in the catalogue of the exhibition De Picasso a Dalí. She has also collaborated with art journals including Arte Ibérica and Espaços, and in congresses and colloquiums.

In the field of museology she directed the course Producción de exposiciones temporales for the Portuguese Museums Network (2002-2005) and has collaborated with specialist journals and congresses such as museologia.pt, Revista de APHA, Studies in conservation and the minutes of the congress Modern Paints Uncovered (Getty, 2006) and ICOM-CC (2011). She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the journal MIDAS (2012-2014) and collaborates with the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in the joint direction of projects, masters and doctoral theses on documentation and conservation of contemporary art. She is currently joint director of the thesis Conservation y valorización de la Colección de fotografía y vídeo de Ângelo de Sousa and is a director member of the team for the research project Documentação da Art Contemporânea, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

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