Mariola V. Alvarez is an assistant professor of art history at Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Temple University. She received her doctorate from the University of California, San Diego, and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. She is the coeditor of New Geographies of Abstract Art in Postwar Latin America (Routledge, 2019) and writes about postwar Brazilian art. Her book The Affinity of Neoconcretism: Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Brazilian Modernism, 1954–1964 will be published by the University of California Press in 2023.
After emerging in France in the late 1940s, “informalist” painting catapulted to prominence across Europe, Asia, and Latin America, cementing its position as one of the prevailing forms of international abstraction. Defined by gestural marks and thickly applied smears of paint, it spanned an enormous variety of related approaches and yielded numerous offshoots, from Abstract Expressionism in the United States, to Tachisme and Art Brut in France, to Gutai in Japan.
In Latin America, Informalismo gave rise to relief-like paintings that incorporated spontaneous mark-making and everyday materials in a repudiation of the strict formalism of preceding avant-gardes. Through its embrace of the detritus of daily life, it extended beyond the canvas, presaging subsequent breakthroughs in action art, performance, and conceptualism in the decades that followed.
Organized in conjunction with the exhibition Born of Informalismo: Marta Minujín and the Nascent Body of Performance, curated by Michaëla de Lacaze Mohrmann, at ISLAA, this panel presented three talks that examined the pivotal role of Informalismo across Latin America. Expanding on the exhibition’s focus on Argentine artist Marta Minujín’s informalist paintings and sculptures, panelists Mariola V. Alvarez, Sean Nesselrode Moncada, and Gabriela Rangel discussed the wide-ranging contributions of women artists to Informalismo in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. Their talks were followed by a roundtable conversation moderated by Michaëla de Lacaze Mohrmann.
In her talk “On the Move: Women Informalist Painters in Brazil,” Mariola V. Alvarez examined the relationship between immigration and the development of informalist abstract painting by a group of women artists in Brazil in the 1960s.
In the lecture “Maruja Rolando On-Site,” Sean Nesselrode Moncada explored the brief but tumultuous informalist moment in Venezuela through the work of the underappreciated, unorthodox artist Maruja Rolando. Informed by emergent discourses in archaeology and anthropology, Rolando grounds Venezuelan Informalismo firmly in the earth, questioning canonical notions of history and progress in South America.
For her presentation, Gabriela Rangel discussed the role of figures such as gallerist, critic, and artist Germaine Derbecq and poet, critic, and artist Juan Calzadilla in promoting Informalismo in Argentina and Venezuela, respectively.
This event was in English, and a recording will be made available soon.