Edgar Negret (Colombia, b.1920, d.2012)
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Sculpture is a medium that requires discipline and patience, skills that Edgar Negret has mastered over his career of more than fifty years. One of Latin America’s most prominent sculptors, Negret’s work defies the limits of imagination and of the viewer’s expectations. His work is elegant, detailed, inspired and vibrant.
Born in 1920, he completed his formal education at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Cali (1938-43) and went on to be an apprentice of Spanish sculptor Jorge Ortega, who introduced him to the works of British sculptor Henry Moore. He continued his education at the Clay Sculpture Center in New York (1948-50) and later travelled to Paris and Spain beginning in the 1950s. Each of these European countries opened a world of possibilities for Negret, the avant-garde centers of activity he visited inspired his own journey towards abstraction.
While in Spain in the early 1950s, Negret was heavily influenced by the architecture of Antonio Gaudí, and was particularly impressed by how Gaudí’s organic forms and its simplicity.
Another pivotal influence on his artistic creation was his encounter with Pre-Columbian art expressions. In 1980, he traveled to Lima, Perú, and visited Machu-Picchu among other archeological sites. The encounter with the Pre-Columbian offered a new thematic direction, and intellectually it represented a change in that he no longer looked for sources in the abstract origin of nature or the machine but in more specific mythologies, like the one of the Inca people.
Aparato Magico (Magic Gadget)
Aparato Mágico, from 1959, which was on display at the Art Museum of the America’s show Constellations, is an example of Negret’s lifelong fascination with the organic nature of form and his dedication to finding its expression through sculpture. Aparato Mágico is one of a series started in 1957, titled Aparatos Mágicos, that occupies a seminal place in Negret’s overall work. The title means ‘magical device’ and the title is the first indication of the contradictions in Negret’s visual language. This piece evokes the mechanical and the imaginary. The mechanics allude to our rational nature, and the magical evokes a space in our imagination.