New Acquisitions at SAMA Include New Works of Latin American Contemporary Art & Gift of Five Contemporary Works from the Alex Katz Foundation
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The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) announced today that it has acquired a number of works by contemporary Latin American artists—and that it has also received a gift of five works of contemporary art from the Alex Katz Foundation. Works by Jose Dávila, Sonia Gomes, Pedro Reyes, and Analia Saban—now on view—add to the Museum’s existing strength in contemporary Latin American art. The other five works given by the Alex Katz Foundation—pieces by Sinéad Breslin, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Leah Durner, Keltie Ferris, and Rob Pruitt—support SAMA’s targeted growth of its contemporary art holdings and are the second grouping of works given to the Museum by the Foundation in the last two years.
“It is exciting to be able to share news about such a diverse group of contemporary art acquisitions all at once, as well as the commitment of the many donors who support us,” said William Rudolph, SAMA’s Interim Co-Director. “It has been a historical strength of this Museum that we collect and present art that both connects directly to the diverse communities of San Antonio and that relates to the wider worlds of art and culture in the United States and beyond. These gifts and purchases support that approach and we look forward to showing off many of these pieces to our audiences in the near future.”
Contemporary Latin American Art
SAMA has long been recognized for its strength in Latin American folk art, an area of collecting anchored in 1985 by the gifts of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Mexican Folk Art Collection and the Robert K. Winn Folk Art Collection. In recent years, the Museum has begun expanding its Latin American collections to more actively embrace contemporary art, seeking out pieces that reflect the diversity of artistic perspectives and experiences from across the region. Most recently, SAMA has purchased works by four artists, who work across a variety of media:
In Joint Effort, two simple large mirrors are held together in a V-shape through the tension of industrial ratchet straps. Its sheer simplicity of construction and materials belies a complexity of contradictions between form and function; cold and warm; light and heavy; and emptiness and fullness. Jose Dávila’s practice explores spatial occupation and the transitory nature of physical structures. Drawing on his formal training as an architect, Dávila creates sculptural installations and photographic works that simultaneously emulate, critique, and pay homage to twentieth-century avant-garde art and architecture.
For this monumental wall hanging from a body of work entitled Torção, Afro-Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes has meticulously stitched different fabrics and laces into endless convolutions. The work twists, spirals, and tapers in an organic, graceful, and even a visceral way that recalls biological forms and sacred objects; collective and personal stories; and memories and experiences. Underlying Gomes’s aesthetic and conceptual choices is an intertwining of the history of art—artists such as Louise Bourgeoise and Eva Hesse whose work makes deep connections to the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of the body—and her own personal history. Gomes’s maternal grandmother was an indigenous healer and midwife in her hometown of Caetanópolis, an important town for Brazilian textile industry and the location of her father’s family’s textile manufacturing business.
Pedro Reyes is one of the most influential international Social Practice artists, and his Disarm series distills formal acumen and socio-political critique on the violent gun culture in Mexico. For this ambitious project, the artist collaborated with the Mexican Secretary of Defense, which confiscated 6,700 firearms, including revolvers, shotguns, and machine guns in Ciudad Juárez. A city of about 1.3 million people, it suffers an average of ten killings a day. The confiscated weapons were then crushed by tanks and steamrollers, after which craftspeople and metal workers created an orchestra of fifty instruments, from flutes to string to percussion instruments. These pieces were then automated to play a delightful, if surreal, loop, retaining the raw emotion of their origin.
In this work from her 2019 Tapestry series, Analia Saban used a traditional loom to interlace linen with the nontraditional weaving material of copper. The artist modeled the pattern after an actual historical circuit board, recognizing that the earliest computers, which used punch cards, were modeled in part on weaving techniques; and that looms, in turn, used early punch-card technologies to function. The Argentina-born, Los Angeles-based artist works across a broad spectrum of mediums exploring how art objects are conceived, constructed, and understood. She consistently plays with, and even expands, the viewers’ expectations of what might constitute a “painting” or “sculpture,” offering inventive new hybrid forms that complicate such categories.
“These works are outstanding examples of the critical ideas motivating artistic practices today, combined with an evident formal acumen,” says Suzanne Weaver, The Brown Foundation Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. “I am thrilled to add works of such intelligence, imagination, and lasting relevance, and I’m immensely grateful to the artists and their dealers for their support in helping the Museum realize these transformative acquisitions.”
All contemporary Latin American art acquisitions were purchased thanks to The Brown Foundation Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund.
Contemporary Art: Gifts from the Alex Katz Foundation (2019)
For the past fourteen years Keltie Ferris has employed techniques that defy expectations and push the possibilities of painting. Using spray paint, she adopts a language associated with graffiti and home decor and deftly applies it to her canvases, creating effects which range from pointillist explosions to arabesque curves punctuated by what the artist calls “erasures” (zones of wet paint that have been wiped with a rag-cloth and turpentine).
The contemplative work of Sinéad Breslin builds on the figural, whether in landscapes or indoors. Through her subjects are often family members or friends, the works are not so much portraits as internalized and psychologized images redolent with the complexities of relationships.
Using a diverse range of materials and techniques in this piece, Rob Pruitt expands upon traditional American Folk handicraft patterns—e.g., the basket symbolizing home and hearth—to create a work with cultural, social, and political connotations. The title itself and the customary use of leftover scraps of fabric in quilt-making underline the artist’s concern with the “stark economic and political divide within the U.S. and a decline in democratic values across the globe.”