Artists Art Issues Exhibitions About Us Search

Curatorial Practices
Interview with Diana C. du Pont, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California.
by Bill Kelley Jr.

Bookmark and Share

BK: Could you talk to us about the Gunther Gerzso exhibition you currently have on view? You have Siqueiros on the outside and Gerzso on the inside - great combo.

DD: Having the Siqueiros is a great setup for looking at Gerzso and what happens during and after the muralist movement. The period of the 1950s and early 1960s has been obscured for two primary reasons; one is the importance and power of muralism. It is the first modern art movement to come out of the Americas, not to mention the most successful and most closely associated with Mexico. The other point is that, before and during WWII, Mexico was a destination point for intellectuals and artists. After WWII, New York crowded everyone out and the U.S. began promoting Abstract Expressionism over everything else. Our point of view is, "No, there were other things happening in Mexico but it was overshadowed by the United States. Gerzso suffered as result of this bias, because instead of looking at his work as a form of sincere expression he was dismissed as an easel painter. We, of course, feel that he made a special contribution to Mexico in the post WWII period. People make jumps from muralism to La Ruptura and forget the period in between which anticipated the abstraction and freedom from muralism and from the government that La Ruptura later embodied.

Because of the scope of this show, and for other reasons, it was important that this show be presented in Mexico. We didní­t want to make a show here that only stayed here. It didní­t seem right for Gerzso. So, we went through the process and weí­re happy that it turned out the way that it did. Luis-Martí­n Lozano, Sari Bermúdez, Saúl Juárez, Jaime Nualart, Teresa Márquez, and others were very open to collaborating with the project and, as a result, the show will be now traveling to Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.

BK: I also really enjoy how the show begins with his work in movie and theater set design. It successfully sets up his way of how he imagined spatial compositions and abstraction.

DD: Yes, and Gerzso had a love/hate relationship with mass culture. On one hand he loved movies and on the other, he had reservations about being involved with mass culture. We wanted people to see this and understand that one of the reasons that he could afford a certain independence from government subsidies and the yoke of muralism, was that he made a living as a set designer. Set design was not a hobby for him.

I hope that people come away with the idea that the human condition was absolutely essential for Gerzsoí­s abstraction. In a time when public art was so powerful and strong, the making of private easel painting that dealt with our internal psychic experience had value. Gerzso belonged to that class of mid-century abstractionists who believed in myth, psychoanalysis, and indigenous art of the Americas as sources for their art.

3 of 3 pages     previous page

back to issues