Emilio Pettoruti (Argentinian 1892-1971)
Emilio Pettoruti (Argentinian 1892-1971)


Emilio Pettoruti (Argentinian 1892-1971)
signed and dated 'Pettoruti 1941' (lower center) signed and dated again and titled 'CONCIERTO, Pettoruti- 1941' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45¾ x 35 1/8 in. (116.2 x 89.2 cm.)
Painted in 1941.
Acquired directly from the artist.
By descent to the present owner.
Quarterly Bulletin, Volume III, No. 2, San Francisco, San Francisco Museum, 1944, p. 42 (illustrated).
Exhibition catalogue, Pettoruti, Buenos Aires, Salón Peuser, 1948, no. 39 (illustrated).
C. Córdova Iturburu, Pettoruti, Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, 1981, p. 63 (illustrated).
J. Romero Brest and A. Osvaldo Nessi, Emilio Pettoruti: Un Clásico en la Vanguardia, Estudio de Arte S.A., Buenos Aires, 1987, p. 165, no. 336 (illustrated).
R. Squirru, J. Lassaigne et al., Pettoruti, Fundación Pettoruti, Buenos Aires, 1995, no. 335 (illustrated).
San Francisco, San Francisco Museum, 1942.
Buenos Aires, Salón Peuser, Pettoruti, 23 August- 11 September 1948, no. 39.
Avellaneda, Argentina, Asociación Gente de Arte, 1949, no. 13.
Sale room notice
Please note this work is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Fundación Pettoruti signed by Rodrigo Díaz Varela and dated 18 May 2012.

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Lot Essay

This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity from the Fundación Pettoruti signed by Rodrigo Díaz Varela and dated 18 May 2012.

Among the founders of the Argentine avant-garde, Pettoruti introduced modern art to Buenos Aires following his return from a productive eleven-year stint in Europe in 1924. His circulation within Cubist and Futurist circles abroad had instilled a strong tendency toward abstraction in his work, and the keen spatial and formal analysis of his early compositions stirred controversy and scandal in the artistically conservative milieu of Argentina in the early 1920s. Alongside colleagues such as Xul Solar and Pablo Curatella-Manes, and in concert with the literary avant-garde that formed around the cosmopolitan journal Martín Fierro, Pettoruti became a staunch advocate for modern art, eventually earning national acceptance and acclaim. As the director of the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes in La Plata between 1930 and 1947, he played an important role in cultivating the arts and in shaping the future directions of Argentine modernism.

From the later 1920s through the 1940s, Pettoruti settled into a mature practice in which he applied modernist formal vocabularies to what became enduring and iconic subjects: musicians and harlequins, still lifes, and interior spaces. An evolution of his early Futurist and Cubist experiments, the Soles (Suns) rank among his most quintessential series, subtly imaging the Argentine nation through the arrangement of characteristic motifs, as seen in the present work. "Pettoruti achieved the happiest fusion of avant-garde and nationalist tendencies to be found in the whole of modern Argentine art in a series of pictures in which sunlight entering a room falls upon a typical still-life grouping (usually a bottle of wine, a soda-water dispenser, and a bowl of fruit)," Marta Traba remarked of these still lifes from the 1940s. "Never has the 'neighborhood' of Buenos Aires been better expressed than in these compositions, with their crystallization of sunlight and perfect articulation of illuminated forms."[1]

Like the monumental Intimidad (1941) and Sol argentino (1941), Concierto describes the hard brilliance of reflected light on a tabletop still life. "Light acts not only to illuminate the scene but becomes itself a concrete element of the picture," Edward Sullivan has noted of the Soles series. "Their large size enhances the sense of theatricality suggested by the still life's setting against windows. The shutters are open wide and the sun pours in like a blinding flash. The light itself appears as a solid element, almost as a yellow curtain or backdrop, illuminating and defining space, enhancing the warmth of the scene."[2] In the present example, the crystallized light casts geometric shadows on a typical assemblage of objects-- wine bottle, bowl of fruit, musical score-- whose shapes are echoed in the flat-pattern, decorative scheme of the composition. The clarity of these forms is here amplified by subtle chiaroscuro effects, in which the shadows amplify the tonal harmonies and rhythms established by the illuminated objects and create a radiant mise-en-scène.

Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park
1) Marta Traba, Art of Latin America, 1900-1980 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 59.
2) Edward J. Sullivan, Emilio Pettoruti (1892-1971) (Buenos Aires: Fundación Pettoruti, 2004), 130.

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