Juan Melé (Argentinian b. 1923)
Juan Melé (Argentinian b. 1923)

Pintura No. 110

Details
Juan Melé (Argentinian b. 1923)
Pintura No. 110
signed, dated, titled and inscribed 'J. Mele, 1948, PINTURA NO 110, BS.AS.' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
29½ x 18¼ in. (74.9 x 46.4 cm.)
Painted in Buenos Aires in 1948.
Provenance
Acquired from the artist.
Estela and Oscar Totah collection, Buenos Aires.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
G. Siracusano, Melé, Buenos Aires, Fundación Mundo Nuevo, 2005, p. 44 (illustrated in color) and p. 46 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Juan Melé formed part of a group of artists, who working in Buenos Aires beginning in the 1940s, who engaged in experiments with abstraction that broke with conventional notions of easel painting, including shaped canvases. Trained at the Escuela de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano and Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón, both in Buenos Aires, in 1946 he joined the group Arte Concreto-Invención. This group included artists Tomás Maldonado, Lidi Prati, Alfredo Hlito, Raúl Lozza, Manuel Espinosa, and Enio Iommi. These artists who participated in artistic debates carried out in journals and exhibitions regarding abstraction and concrete art, seeking to eradicate the figure-ground relationship present in traditional easel painting. In their framed paintings, shaped canvases and in magazines, they staked their claim as participants in international avant-garde tendencies. In consonance with their understanding of their artistic practice as part of Marxist political struggle, they worked as a group.[1] By 1947, the artists associated with this group again took up painting on canvas as a means through which to develop a rigorous, non-illusionistic abstract geometric art, and extended their activities to the fields of "graphic or industrial design."[2] In 1948-49, he studied at Paris' L'Ècole du Louvre, Paris 1948-1949, during this sojourn, trained with Georges Vantongerloo and Sonia Delaunay, and met the Swiss Concrete artist Max Bill.[3] The work of Piet Mondrian was also of great importance for Melé during this period.

He is regarded as an important participant in the development of avant-garde abstract geometric art, and has been recognized in solo exhibitions held at the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívori, in 1981 and the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1987, both in Buenos Aires. Beginning in the 1980s, the contributions of Melé and this generation of artists have been included in a number of exhibitions both in Argentina and internationally. In 1999, he published La vanguardia del '40: Memorias de un artista concreto (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Cinco, 1999).

Dr. Miriam Basilio, Assistant Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, New York University

1) Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, "Buenos Aires: Breaking the Frame," in Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Ed. The Geometry of Hope: Latin American Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Austin: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas, at Austin 2007, pp. 30-37, pp. 32-33.
2) Pérez-Barreiro, p. 35.
3) Gabriela Rangel Mantilla, in Geometric Abstraction: Latin American Art from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Cambridge: Harvard University Museums and Caracas: Fundación Cisneros, 2001, pp. 251-252.

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