A Closer Look: The Getty Generates New Scholarship about Concrete Art from the CPPC

September 15, 2017

Patricia and Gustavo Cisneros and Ainhoa Grandes Massa visiting the Science Department of the Getty Conservation Institute.

When the Getty approached us with a proposal to conduct a scientific study of the materials and processes used in 47 works from the CPPC’s collection of Concrete art from Latin America, we were thrilled. The project is one facet of the Getty’s second iteration of Pacific Standard Time, conceived as a broadly-based initiative involving more than 80 institutions in Los Angeles and Southern California, with a remit to explore the relationships between California and Latin America and Latino cultures.

We knew that artists from Argentina and Brazil and other countries in Latin America in the 1940s and 50s had sometimes used unorthodox materials and invented specialized techniques to achieve the precise effects they wanted, but we didn’t know exactly what those materials were or how they were utilized and applied. To have the extraordinary expertise and up-to-the-minute scientific equipment and methodologies of the Getty Research Institute and Getty Conservation institute brought to bear on a group of 47 works from the CPPC was a dream come true. We had shown these works many times before, but here was a wonderful opportunity to add substantially to scholarship about them, and to bring a new aspect of their creation to light by examining them from a technical perspective. After three years of work, the Getty’s diligent researchers and conservators, in collaboration with teams in Argentina, Brazil and Houston, have completed the first stage of their research, uncovering fascinating details about the works that were previously unknown and unknowable. Science and art come together in the culminating exhibition Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.  We look forward to the continued research into this fascinating period of history, and the second publication (after the exhibition catalogue) that will delve even deeper into the scientific and scholarly discoveries made during this process.

Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros is on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum (16 September 2017–11 February 2018).