The Museum of Modern Art has announced a major gift from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, containing over 100 works of modern and contemporary art by major artists from Latin America to the Museum’s collection. They will also establish the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Research Institute for the Study of Art from Latin America. The Cisneros Institute will be dedicated to an expansive approach to the study and interpretation of modern and contemporary art from Latin America.
The gift includes 102 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, made between the 1940s and the 1990s by 37 artists working in Brazil, Venezuela, and the Río de la Plata region of Argentina and Uruguay, including Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Jesús Rafael Soto, Alejandro Otero, and Tomás Maldonado. They join 40 works previously given by Patricia and Gustavo Cisneros over the last 16 years; Mrs Cisneros is a longtime MoMA Trustee and a member of several acquisitions and funding committees, including the Latin American and Caribbean Fund, of which she is chairman and founder.
The Cisneros Institute, to be located on MoMA’s Midtown Manhattan campus, will offer opportunities for curatorial research and travel, host visiting scholars and artists, convene an annual international conference, and produce research publications on art from Latin America. It is poised to become the preeminent research centre in the field, building on MoMA’s history of collecting, exhibiting, and studying the art and artists of the region, dating back to 1931. Today, MoMA’s collection includes more than 5,000 works by artists from Latin America.
The breadth of this gift is unprecedented, and the accompanying research initiative devoted to the study of the works and their integration into the overall narrative of modern art will greatly enrich MoMA’s collection and scholarly activities. As an integral program of The Museum of Modern Art, the Cisneros Institute represents a singular commitment to the region and will foster intensive research on and engagement with the region’s art and artists.
“We are profoundly grateful to Patty Cisneros, whose longstanding and unwavering dedication to art and artists from Latin America continues to transform and expand our understanding and appreciation of that region’s significant role in the history of modern and contemporary art,” said Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art. “MoMA has been
an advocate for the prominent place of art from Latin America within the historical context of modern art since 1931 when it became the first museum outside Latin America to collect works by artists from this region. The establishment of the Cisneros Institute and the integration of such important works from Latin America into our collection and installations represent a culmination of the process of more fully incorporating art from Latin America into the narrative of modernism.”
“This gift and the establishment of a dedicated research institute represents a major milestone in our goal to provide a broader context to the history of art from Latin America, firmly rooted and integrated in a museum whose unparalleled collections and scholarship will allow for a rich and nuanced understanding of the place of Latin America in the history of modern and contemporary art,” said Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. “Under Glenn Lowry’s leadership, MoMA has
delivered on the promise of its historical commitment to Latin America, and we are delighted to be able to contribute to this process, and to guarantee its long-term presence in the Museum.”
The collective group of 142 works covers three major geographic and temporal constellations of artists working on the legacy of constructive, non-objective abstraction during the middle and second half of the 20th century. Of the 37 artists represented in the most recent donation, 21 are entering MoMA’s collection for the first time. The incorporation of these pieces will fill major gaps in the collection and deepen the understanding of art produced in the region during this period, allowing the Museum to represent a more comprehensive, plural, and robust narrative of artistic practices that demonstrate the integral role of Latin America in the establishment of modern art. A whole chapter of international modernism is revealed in these works, allowing a more complex understanding of modern art as an international, multifaceted movement.
The Museum will organise and present a major exhibition of modern works drawn from the Cisneros gift within the next few years and will publish an accompanying scholarly catalogue.
The goals of the Cisneros Institute are to conduct research on the visual arts, film, media, performance, architecture, and design of the region, placing the works in their local and global contexts; to place special emphasis on research that is designed to enhance MoMA’s collection of art from the region, both to deepen knowledge of previously acquired works and to facilitate future acquisitions and programs; to manage related educational initiatives, including seminars, symposia, lectures, and other public programs, and support a fellowship program that will bring scholars, curators, and artists from the region and beyond to participate and assist in this research; to foster long-term strategic partnerships with modern and contemporary art institutions throughout the world that are interested in art from Latin America; and to publish the results of its research, in both printed and digital formats, so as to make these findings available to the Museum’s diverse audiences.
Photo: Philip Johnson, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and David Rockefeller at MoMA, 1993 courtesy Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC)