Karen Grimson is an art historian specializing in Latin American abstraction. She holds a degree in art history from the Universidad de Buenos Aires and an MA from the Courtauld Institute, London. Between 2011 and 2020, she worked at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, developing acquisitions and exhibitions of art from Latin America. Her writings on the work of Sarah Grilo have been published by ISLAA and Galerie Lelong, Paris. She also contributed articles to the publications Among Others: Blackness at MoMA, Joaquín Torres-García: The Arcadian Modern, Being Modern, and MoMA Highlights, as well as the online portals MoMA Magazine and post: notes on art in a global context.
During their lifetimes, Argentine artists Sarah Grilo (1919–2007) and José Antonio Fernández-Muro (1920–2014) made significant contributions to global abstraction. Forming part of a generation of artists working in Buenos Aires following the emergence of concrete art in the 1940s, this married couple offered distinct stylistic contributions that helped expand the genre. Their work was shown internationally, and they served as emissaries of the Argentine avant-garde at notable exhibitions and biennials. At the height of their prominence in Argentina, Grilo and Fernández-Muro relocated to New York in 1962, where they continued to push abstraction beyond its previous boundaries.
This panel will present new scholarship on the activity of Grilo and Fernández-Muro in New York, considering both their individual artistic developments and their role in relation to Latin American art’s reception in the United States during the 1960s. Grappling with existing interpretations of their careers that celebrate their time in New York as a breakthrough moment, this panel will examine their achievements through alternate methodological and historical approaches that displace the center-periphery narrative, while also considering questions of race, nationality, and gender.
In her presentation, Megan Kincaid will introduce her research for the exhibition José Antonio Fernández-Muro: Geometry in Transfer at the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), locating the New York years within Grilo’s and Fernández-Muro’s sweeping careers. Delia Solomons will then contextualize how their work circulated within the surge of survey exhibitions dedicated to Latin American art in the United States amid inter-American Cold War frictions between 1959 and 1968. In his lecture, Juan Gabriel Ramírez Bolívar will trace the evolution of the circle as a geometric and figurative device across Fernández-Muro’s New York paintings. Karen Grimson will then present on Grilo’s work from 1962 to 1970, explicating how her use of language, initiated during her New York residency, functioned as a proclamation of discursive agency. The presentations will be followed by a discussion moderated by Edward J. Sullivan.
The program is organized in conjunction with José Antonio Fernández-Muro: Geometry in Transfer, curated by Megan Kincaid, at ISLAA.
ABOUT THE LATIN AMERICAN FORUM
The Latin American Forum is a series of public lectures about the arts of the Americas, supported by ISLAA. These talks, interviews, and conversations with artists, curators, and scholars promote the advanced understanding of modern and contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art. As a conversational space for the creation of knowledge, it aims to build bridges that allow the exchange of ideas, resources, and methods within the field. Established by ISLAA and The Institute of Fine Arts in 2011, the Latin American Forum is held regularly at The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, throughout the academic year in different formats, including panel discussions, conversations, and lectures. It is coordinated by Edward J. Sullivan and organized by graduate students.
The university lectures and symposia are ISLAA’s longest-running initiatives as well as its flagship projects. These public programs and events have consolidated a vibrant international community for the academic discussion of the arts from Latin America. At The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, ISLAA also supports South and About!, the Annual Symposium of Latin American Art, and the spring edition of the Duke House Exhibition Series.