“From Surface to Space: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires” Exhibition

The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art

poster for “From Surface to Space: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires” Exhibition
[Image: Enio Iommi "Elevación del triángulo (Triangle Elevation)" (1956) © the artist. Photo: Arturo Sanchez]

This event has ended.

The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA) presents “From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires, curated by Francesca Ferrari. The first in a new series on Latin American modernism at ISLAA, this exhibition explores concurrent experiments in concrete sculpture amid the formative, transnational creative dialogue between the Swiss artist Max Bill and the Argentine avant-garde from 1946 to 1955. It is conceived as a complementary exhibition to max bill global, curated by Fabienne Eggelhöfer and Myriam Dössinger, at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland.

“From Surface to Space” brings together sculptures by Carmelo Arden Quin (Uruguayan, 1913–2010), Max Bill (Swiss, 1908–1994), Claudio Girola (Argentine, 1923–1994), Enio Iommi (Argentine, 1926–2013), and Gyula Kosice (Argentine, 1924–2016), as well as a series of drawings by Lidy Prati (Argentine, 1921–2008). As members of the groups Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI) and Madí, the Buenos Aires–based artists Arden Quin, Girola, Iommi, Kosice, and Prati circulated, revised, and expanded Bill’s notions of concretism in Latin America. This exhibition frames Bill’s relationship to his Argentine peers as one of reciprocal impact, revealing how artists in Argentina reacted to Bill’s theories while Bill reoriented his characterization of concrete art after encountering their work.

Taking its title from a 1951 essay in which Bill examines how artworks relate to the spaces they inhabit, the show highlights these artists’ shared aspirations to shape objects that activate their surroundings, using abstraction as a tool for animating environments. Focusing on sculpture, a medium that is less often centered in discussions of the Argentine avant-garde—which tend to privilege marcos recortados, or paintings with “broken frames”—this exhibition examines the role of sculpture in advancing artists’ determination to energize three-dimensional space. Despite their diversity of ideologies and approaches, the featured artists were united by a common, revolutionary goal: to invoke visual, tactile, and synesthetic responses in the viewer.

“From Surface to Space”: Max Bill and Concrete Sculpture in Buenos Aires is accompanied by a publication including an essay by curator Francesca Ferrari. Physical copies are available free of charge at ISLAA and for download online.


In conjunction with the exhibition, ISLAA is pleased to present a series of live online public programs and pre-recorded lectures that will examine Bill’s broader legacy in Latin America and provide further insight into the featured artists’ work. Co-organized with the Zentrum Paul Klee, the panel International Dialogues in Experimental Design on October 14 will explore the development of European and Latin American experimental design and pedagogical strategies inspired by the Bauhaus. A second panel on October 21 will be presented as part of the Latin American Forum at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, a platform proudly sponsored by ISLAA since 2013. This event, titled Recasting Concretism, will consider Bill’s work in relation to concrete art in Argentina and Brazil. Alongside these live presentations, ISLAA will also publish two recorded video lectures by scholars María José Herrera and María Cristina Rossi on the work of Enio Iommi and Claudio Girola, respectively.

The video lectures as well as the Zoom registration links for the following live online panels will be added in September. Please check back soon for more information.

International Dialogues in Experimental Design
Co-Presented with the Zentrum Paul Klee
A Panel with Julian Bittiner, Liz Donato, and Aleca Le Blanc
Moderated by Fabienne Eggelhöfer
October 14, 12 PM EDT

Recasting Concretism
Co-Presented with The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
A Panel with Heloisa Espada and Adele Nelson
Moderated by Francesca Ferrari
October 21, 12 PM EDT


Francesca Ferrari is a PhD candidate at The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She holds an MA in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in art history and English from the Université de Lausanne. Her research and publications focus on twentieth-century European and Latin American art. Her doctoral dissertation, tentatively titled “Animated Geometries,” explores the convergence of geometric abstraction, the human body, and movement on a transnational scale during the 1920s. She has received fellowships from the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin; and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.



from August 19, 2021 to October 30, 2021

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