First New York Museum Exhibition of Important Uruguayan Artist in Nearly 50 Years

. October 30, 2017

The Noguchi Museum presents a retrospective exhibition of the sculptural work of Gonzalo Fonseca (1922–97), an important Uruguayan-born modernist who for forty years was based in New York City, where he created some of the most enchanting, idea-rich sculptures of the second half of the twentieth century. The exhibition will encompass some 80 objects dating from the mid-1960s to the 1990s, primarily works in stone carved with his own hands in studios in Lower Manhattan and Tuscany, complemented by a selection of drawings and sketchbooks. Organized by The Noguchi Museum in partnership with the Fonseca Estate and curated by the Museum’s Senior Curator, Dakin Hart, the exhibition is on view from October 25, 2017, through March 11, 2018.

Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon states, “With The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca the Museum continues to broaden its curatorial reach, all while remaining anchored in the legacy of Isamu Noguchi and his protean artistic practice. While we don’t know the circumstances or timing of the meeting of these two artists, we do know that they shared numerous artistic interests and beliefs. It is fascinating to see how these manifested themselves in Fonseca’s work, and to be able to look at them in the context of this Museum.”

Mr. Hart adds, “Like Noguchi, whom he met in New York or Italy probably in the early 1970s, Fonseca was a globe-trotting world-builder, in love with stone as an index of human civilization, from the geological to the archaeological, to the mythic. In 1958, having spent more than a decade in the workshop of Joaquín Torres-García and exploring ancient cultures in South America and around the Mediterranean basin—including time spent living in Greece, Rome, Madrid, Egypt, and Syria—Fonseca moved his family to New York City and transitioned his architectonic imagination from painting to sculpture. That is the starting point of this exhibition, which explores the conceptual reach of the universal language of forms that Fonseca worked with throughout the rest of his career.”

Although the Uruguayan-born Gonzalo Fonseca entered university as an architecture student, he left early to join the studio of his brilliant countryman, the painter and theorist Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949), to which he remained connected for approximately ten years. In 1958,
following extended intercontinental travels, he moved to New York, where he would gradually trade painting for sculpture. This included, between 1965 and 1970, a number of large-scale
public works, including a playground, underpass, and monument in Reston, Virginia (extant); an experimental play structure for a park in the Bronx, New York (destroyed); and a concrete tower for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics (extant). A voracious reader and superb draftsman, Fonseca had a number of scholarly hobbies, one of which was illustrating books by authors including Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Michel de Montaigne.

In the last two decades of his life, he divided his time between New York City and a disused quarry in Seravezza (Italy), conjuring Swiftian worlds in stone.

The Noguchi Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City, New York. It is open Wednesday–Friday, 10 am–5 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–6 pm. General admission is $10; $5 for seniors and students with a valid ID. New York City public high-school students, children under 12, and Museum members are admitted free of charge. Admission is free on the first Friday of every month. Public tours in English are available daily at 2 pm, and in Japanese on the first Friday and second Sunday of every month. 718-204-7088 or www.noguchi.org

Gonzalo Fonseca, White Facade, 1987. Roman travertine. 26 3/8 x 35 13/16 x 8 1/4 in. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca.

Category: Fine Art

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