The origin of MADI art can be found in the educational and informative work in the defence and practice of a pure geometric art, of constructive and universal values, which Joaquín Torres García undertakes on his return to Montevideo (1934). In Buenos Aires, around 1940, a first group of artists and poets, among which are: Carmelo Arden Quin, Rhod Rothfuss, Gyula Kosice, Edgar Bayley, Tomás Maldonado and Martin Blaszko, advocate a non-figurative art which has a geometric basis and without reference to phenomenal reality. In that way, as Rothfuss notes, "A painting should be something that begins and ends with itself". Soon after they launch an editorial (Arturo. Abstract Arts Magazine, 1944) and narrative structures which define what are to be their most characteristic traits: rejection of the orthogonal frame in favour of an irregular one, an irregular cut; sculptures featuring real or virtual movement -fixing on Torres Garcia’s articulated toys- and the use of flat colours. In this way, the concept of invention and the principle that the work is and does not represent, express or mean, their work is the result of the confluence of playfulness with geometric rigor. In the words of the curator of the exhibition, Maria Lluïsa Borràs, "the artists rationally work in the perceptual domain, operating with the interaction of forms and their impact on space, trying to find a language accessible to all, objective and therefore of a social being.”
MADI is founded in 1945 and at the same time a new avenue opens up within it: Concrete-Invention Art, led by Kosice. Their final split (1948), triggered by the dilemma of objectives -participate in an own and Latin American modernity from abstract mechanistic principles or align with the European Concrete Art movement- promotes an international expansion of Madism. Arden Quin moves to Paris (1948), the city becomes the main European scene for the diffusion and reception of MADI art. There he establishes the Centre d'Etudes et de Recherches madistes (1951-1958) and implements a creative workshop and debates on the principles of geometric art, "White Art" in the words of Borràs, a kind of "timid minimalism avant la lettre that consists of using light effects from a white surface to obtain maximum colour intensity." It also integrates into the circles of concrete-art exhibitions then in vogue: the Salon des Realités Nouvelles and Galerie Denise René.
This exhibition aims to show the history of the MADI movement, plural and active fifty years after its foundation; for this Maria Lluïsa Borràs has established three different moments that structure the sections which divide the exhibition: "The origins of MADI", "MADI in the Southern Cone and the Caribbean and MADI in Paris", and "MADI Current International Events", the latter section brings together works by MADI artists (or artists close to their ideology) from Italy, Belgium, Hungary, the United States and Spain, as well as Argentina and France.
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