Gerardo Rueda, Spanish Modernist

March 1, 2008

March 1–April 19, 2008

Gerardo Rueda: Spanish Modernist on View in Graduate Center James Gallery

Emerging Significance from Overlooked Period in Spanish Art

From March 1 to April 19, 2008, The Amie and Tony James Gallery of the Graduate Center will present Gerardo Rueda, Spanish Modernist, an exhibition of forty-two paintings dating from 1957 to 1996.  The exhibition highlights the abstract, constructivist work of an often overlooked artist who carried the torch of modernism in a country that for much of the 20th century remained isolated—geographically and politically—from the main currents of European art.  On loan from the Fundación Gerardo Rueda in Madrid and Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, the exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by the distinguished critic Barbara Rose, who is also its curator.  The James Gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 6 pm, and is located off the lobby of the Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.  (Pictured:  Untitled, 1967, from the collection of José Luis Rueda.)

Among the “lost generation” of artists working during Franco’s dictatorship, Gerardo Rueda (1926-1996) occupies a unique place in Spanish art of the second-half of the twentieth century. Rejecting the expressive Informalism that characterized most Spanish painting of the 50s and 60s, he initially worked to develop a distinctly lyrical and painterly abstraction. Inspired by the works of Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko he saw in The New American Painting—a 1959 traveling exhibition in Madrid organized by the Museum of Modern Art—Rueda began to darken his palette to tones of deep brown or blackish grey. Like these artists, he reduced forms to a few, rigorously structured elements, producing canvases that were unparalleled in contemporary European painting.

The following year, when he exhibited in the Spanish pavilion of the Venice Biennale, he was drawn to Lucio Fontana’s anti-illusionistic monochrome canvases and undertook a series of delicately textured monochromatic paintings in 1961. Notwithstanding his sensitive response to these important influences, conciseness and clarity were becoming his primary goals, leading to the architectonic and minimal painted constructions of 1965-1972. As his style continued to evolve, it became increasingly hard-edged and geometric, underscoring his dedication to Constructivism, whose discipline and ideals it freshly and splendidly interpreted. As Barbara Rose has observed, “Rueda’s body of work demonstrates an extraordinary consistency and an intellectual probity that is never compromised.”

Gerardo Rueda, Spanish Modernist is one of three exhibitions celebrating the artist’s multi-faceted career. The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute (684 Park Avenue) will be presenting maquettes for his public sculptures from February 28 to April 30, and the Gallery at the Park Avenue Bank (350 Park Avenue) will be showing his collages and drawings from February 11 to April 11.

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