The Illusive Eye
On view February 3, 2016 to May 22, 2016
El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present The Illusive Eye, an international survey on Kinetic and Op art. The exhibition offers a broad intellectual context for Op art and geometric abstraction, one that goes against the grain of formalist art history. The selection provides a special focus on artwork from the Americas and features major artists from eighteen countries in Latin America and beyond.
“The Illusive Eye is about illusions—those we see and feel when we look at Op and kinetic art and those experienced by the curators and art historians of these movements,” said Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Executive Director, El Museo and exhibition curator. “The perceptual play of things seen and unseen provides us with a model for understanding the relative invisibility of Latin American artists in past surveys of Op art.”
The Illusive Eye puts forth a reading of Op art and geometric abstraction that is notably different from that of prior exhibitions, which focused on the psychology and physiology of perception. El Museo’s exhibition traces the concepts and values of optical art to its esoteric origins in Pythagorean (Egyptian) and Theosophical (Eastern) mysticism. The Illusive Eye places Op art in a truly international context, beyond that of the narrow European model of modernism as perpetuated by Western museums.
The Illusive Eye embarks on three objectives:
First, we revisit and celebrate the innovations of the MoMA exhibition and flesh it out with the Latin American dimension that it lacked.
Second, we put forth a notably different reading of Op and Kinetic art—offering a discursive and critical response to the traditional studies dwelling on the physiology and psychology of vision.
Third, we propose a connection between the naturalizing (responsive) theories of optical art and the naturalized absence of Latin American artists from The Responsive Eye and similar curatorial projects. The few Latin Americans represented in the MoMA show each lived in Europe at the time of the exhibition. We therefore propose a link between the lessons in the phenomenology of illusions in Op art and the parallel illusions of curatorial vision—in which focus on one object requires the invisibility of others.
Exhibition curator: Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Ph.D., Executive Director, El Museo del Barrio; author of The Geometric Unconscious: A Century of Abstraction (University of Nebraska Press, 2012).