Martha Boto, Deplacements Optiques, 1968. Metal, Plexiglas, electric motor, 18 7/8 in. x 14 15/16 in. x 8 1/2 in.
Martha Boto, Dynamo, 1969. Metal, plastic, electric motor, 17 1/2 in. x 16 1/2 in. x 9 in.
Martha Boto and Gregorio Vardanega studio, Paris.
[1925 - 2004, Argentina / France]
Born in Buenos Aires, Martha Boto was drawn to art as a young child, and her family supported her studies. Between the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s, she joined the first abstract art movements in Buenos Aires, including the Asociación Arte Nuevo. In 1944, she attended La Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Cárcova, where she took classes in drawing and painting.
In the 1950s, Boto showed her work at several Buenos Aires galleries, including Van Riel Galería and Galería Galatea. She began to create structures and transparent mobiles in Plexiglas, with colored water, perhaps in dialogue with works being made around the same time by Gyula Kosice. In 1956, she (along with Gregorio Vardanega) co-founded the group Agrupación de "Arte no Figurativo Argentino."
In 1959, Boto and Vardanega moved to Paris, and she began a new phase of her career. In 1960, she participated in the first La Biennale Paris and began to explore movement in sculpture. She developed her kinetic works during this time, adding a motor or colored lights to her sculptural practice and focusing upon the effects of movement, illumination, and color; of special interest was the ability to modify, absorb, and reflect light. To this end, she also began experimenting with different industrial materials, including aluminum and stainless steel. In 1961, she showed her works for the first time at the Galerie Denise René, in the group exhibition Art abstrait constructif international. Art critics of the time described her works in relation to the genre of science fiction and with the seeming magic of space travel. Her first solo exhibition at Galerie Denise René was in 1969.
Boto continued to work, making sculptures and paintings, through the early 2000s. She died in Paris in 2004.
Her works have been included in numerous important exhibitions, including Real/Virtual, Arte Cinético Argentino de los Años Sesenta, at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2013) and Lo[s] Cinético[s] at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Madrid, Spain (2007). Her other selected exhibitions include Formal Exchange: Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Latin America, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA (2006); An Open Mind, Maddox Arts, London, England, UK (2017); Real/Virtual, Arte Cinético Argentino de los Años Sesenta, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012); Constructed Dialogues: Concrete, Geometric, and Kinetic Art from the Latin American Art Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA (2012); Color into Light, Connecting Currents: Contemporary Art at the Fine Arts Museum Houston in the inaugural installation of the Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA (2020); and Kinesthesia: Latin American Kinetic Art, 1954–1969, Palm Springs Art Museum, California, USA (2017).
Boto’s work is a part of numerous important collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, USA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), California, USA; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris (MAM Paris), France; Musée National d’Art Moderne - Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM Rio), Brazil; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Texas, USA; Muzeon Tel Aviv Leomanut, Israel; and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA
Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia
Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection (LACMA), CA, USA
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris, France
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Latinoamericano, La Plata, Argentina
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museu de Arte Moderna de Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), TX, USA
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy
Recklinghausen Museum, Recklinghausen, Germany
Rembrandt van Rijn Foundation, The Cape, South Africa
Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel