AMA's Permanent Collection: Part II

In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month 2020, we share some highlights of our collection. This exhibition is a carefully curated selection of the Art Museum of the Americas's permanent collection of more than 2,000 pieces. The AMA is the first museum of modern and contemporary art of Latin America and the Caribbean in the United States. Its origins date back to the Pan American Union art program which was the first exhibition space for young artists who are considered among the most influential of the mid twentieth-century in the Western Hemisphere. This collection is a vital bridge between the legacy of Latin American art and a heritage for todays Latinx ground braking artists. 

Head (c.1960 - c.1966) by Rafael FerrerArt Museum of the Americas

“A green-and-red thi[n]g-amajig,” in the words of the Washington Post critic, Head exemplifies the colorful welded sculptures that Ferrer made during this time. Perched atop a red base encircled by a heavy chain, the whimsical, welded-metal “head” satirizes the mechanization of modern life, its green machine parts inanimate yet playfully anthropomorphic. Ferrer’s sculptures are “primarily adaptations of machinery to human form: typewriters and adding machines have been endowed with poetic wit and charm,” José Gómez Sicre wrote in the exhibition brochure. “They represent, however, a criticism of the mechanized attitudes assumed by human beings under the impact of an increasingly mechanical civilization.”

Estudiante Muerto (1956 - 1956) by Alejandro ObregónArt Museum of the Americas

Along with Masacre - 10 de abril (1948) and La violencia (1962), The Dead Student—also known as The Vigil—is one of Alejandro Obregón’s most significant political works.

Composición mecánica (1957) by Eduardo Ramírez VillamizarArt Museum of the Americas

Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar’s oil paintings can be treated as precursors to his better-known volumetric reliefs and sculptures. Spending a significant amount of time in Paris in the early to mid-1950s, he soon abandoned the portraiture and expressionist style of his formative years in Colombia to assimilate a new postwar visual vocabulary of abstraction and geometry.

Panorama eléctrico (1958) by Armando VillegasArt Museum of the Americas

Panorama eléctrico by Peruvian artist Armando Villegas exemplifies a stylistic trend that emerged in the Andes after World War II. This new style drew inspiration from pre-Columbian forms as a means to distinguish Andean abstraction from both Indigenism, which preceded it, and from variants of abstraction, which had emerged in Europe and other parts of the Americas. Painted in subtle washes of greens and browns, Panorama eléctrico defies clear orientation.

Fugitive from a Mayan Lintel (1958/1958) by Rodolfo AbularachArt Museum of the Americas

Fugitive from a Mayan Lintel belongs to a body of work inspired by Rodolfo Abularach’s study of Mayan architecture and artifacts at the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología in Guatemala. With the encouragement of Carlos Mérida, Abularach looked to the forms of pre-Columbian art in the late 1950s as a vehicle for modernist experimentation.

Cajamarca (1959 - 1959) by Fernando de SzyszloArt Museum of the Americas

Cajamarca is part of a series of oil paintings under the same title, which, in Szyszlo’s words, narrates “a sort of glimpse of the execution of the last Inca, Atahualpa, by Francisco Pizarro.” In addition to the piece in the AMA collection, there are three other works in collections in Lima. “It was the first time,” stated Szyszlo, “that I had created a series of paintings trying to capture a feeling that was escaping me. I’ve created several series since, always trying to catch the painting that escapes. Painting is the murder of a dream.”

Aparato Mágico (1959/1959) by Edgar NegretArt Museum of the Americas

In this sculpture, Negret worked with organic shapes and the whole configuration recalls a living figure, a butterfly or a bird. The two main parts of the sculpture are allusive of wings and flight, which became an important feature in the later pieces of the Magic Machines.

Composition (1960/1960) by María Luisa PachecoArt Museum of the Americas

Prior to her 1961 visit to Bolivia, María Luisa Pacheco began to experiment with abstract expressionism and art informel, and Composition is among her earliest forays into non-representational painting.

Equilibrium (1960) by Alfredo da SilvaArt Museum of the Americas

Equilibrium is an image that vacillates between abstraction and representation. On a background of thin washes of ochre, angular “rock” formations occupy the central portion of the canvas. From a gap in the craggy rock a small glowing orb suggests a setting sun aligned with the sacred landscape on the solstice. Balanced on the central blocky formation is a second smaller rectangular form in the upper right.

Naranja sobre Magenta (1961 - 1961) by Rogelio PoleselloArt Museum of the Americas

At the end of the 1950s, Rogelio Polesello introduced into his work various materials and techniques used in industrial production and the field of graphic design. Orange on Magenta is a painting made from layers of oil, applied on the canvas with a gun through metallic sheets with small circular perforations. The juxtaposition of the different layers of color produces an optical effect of reverberation.

Vaso vertical (1961) by Omar RayoArt Museum of the Americas

With his intaglios, Omar Rayo opened up new possibilities for paper, a material he venerated and defined as “a two-sided god to carry the ideas of men.”

Guerrillero muerto VIII (1962) by Armando MoralesArt Museum of the Americas

Guerrillero Muerto VIII was part of a solo exhibition that Armando Morales held at the Pan American Union between March and April 1962, and it belongs to a series of thirteen works created between the late fifties and early sixties.

Signo en el espacio (1962) by Ángel HurtadoArt Museum of the Americas

The immediacy of Hurtado’s brushstrokes not only make his process clear but also create a sense of internal movement, as though the forms are in the process of change or transmutation. Hurtado saw these paintings as “inner landscapes” inspired by the “anxieties aroused by the barely known, the unsuspected, the unfamiliar, the utterly strange.”

Pintura No. 12 (1962) by Vicente RojoArt Museum of the Americas

Vicente Rojo’s experimentation with Spanish informalism was a relatively brief period of his career but significant in its break with the legacy of Mexican muralism. Like many Spanish artists of his generation, he looked to the example of Antoni Tàpies and his emphasis on materiality as a break with the tradition.

Superticion (1963 - 1963) by Enrique TábaraArt Museum of the Americas

Enrique Tábara’s painting Superstition sits on the border between abstraction and figuration. In an extremely limited palette, Tábara renders a linear figure in gray and white against a black background. The figure consists of a central “face” that seems to be consuming a smaller figure with two beady eyes. Balancing on three fingers, its weighty form floats above the ground.

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Artworks from the collection of the Organization of American States (OAS) AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Art of the Americas: Collection of the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States is an endeavor that aims to study the historical and cultural legacy of the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas and the Organization of American States. See our online catalog here:

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