Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Maria Freire | AMA's Permanent Collection

Vibrante (1977) by Maria Freire (Uruguay)
Collection OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Maria Freire 
(Uruguay, born 1917) 
More on AMA's Permanent CollectionSearchable Collection Database
AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Maria Freire is one of the most important artists to emerge from South America. Her contributions to the artistic experimentations that led to the period known as geometric abstraction in Latin America are of a daring and restless character. Her formal education took place at the Círculo de Bellas Artes (1938-1943) under the tutelage of José Cuneo and Severino Pose and at the Universidad del Trabajo, under the teachings of Antonio Pose. 

With her husband José Pedro Costigliolo (1902-1985), Freire formed one of the most dynamic artistic teams in Latin American art history. Influenced by a wide range of European artists (Antoine Pevsner and Georges Vantongerloo for example) and other expressions like African art and European non-figurative art, Freire was already by the 1940s working on abstract compositions. What this tells us about Freire is that she was an artist immersed in breaking away from the referential, from the traditional, and that she looked at not only her immediate sources in Latin America for inspiration but to European and African ways of artistic expression. 

This is remarkable for two reasons: she was a woman artist who displayed a strong independent spirit, and because as an artist within the geometric abstraction generation from Latin America she was at the forefront of change. Freire’s influences were not dictated by her fellow contemporary Latin American artists, but by her travels throughout the world and her desire to transform the way we looked at art and life. 

Vibrante, from 1977, on display at the Art Museum of the America’s show ‘Constellations,’ is an example of Freire’s lifelong experimentation with abstraction. The richly colored lines create blocks of shadows and light, which create a narrative of color. Freire is recognized as an artist that challenged contemporary notions of art and set a model of an independent Latin American woman artist.  

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