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Transatlantic voyage: MFAH exhibition offers crash course in Latin American modernism

MFAH exhibition offers crash course in Latin American modernism

MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Matta - Abstract Composition
Roberto Matta, Abstract Composition, 1949, oil and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Rivera - Still Life with Lemons
Diego Rivera, Naturaleza muerta con limones (Still Life with Lemons), 1916, oil on canvas, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of © 2013 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Botero - El Nuncio
Fernando Botero, El Nuncio, 1962, oil on canvas, the Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of © Fernando Botero/Marlborough Gallery, New York
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Lam - Mujer con pájaro
Wifredo Lam, Mujer con pájaro (Woman with Bird), 1955, oil on canvas, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Segui - El que piensa demasiado
Antonio Seguí, El que piensa demasiado (The One Who Thinks Too Much), 1986, acrylic on canvas, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Pettoruti - La Voce
Emilio Pettoruti, La Voce (The Voice), 1916, pastel, charcoal, and collage on paperboard, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Reverón - Retrato de Mujer
Armando Reverón, Retrato de Mujer (Portrait of a Woman), c. 1934, gouache on paper mounted on cardboard, The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Photo courtesy of The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Matta - Abstract Composition
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Rivera - Still Life with Lemons
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Botero - El Nuncio
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Lam - Mujer con pájaro
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Segui - El que piensa demasiado
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Pettoruti - La Voce
MFAH Intersecting Modernities June 2013 Reverón - Retrato de Mujer

The list of works included in Intersecting Modernities — currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — reads like a veritable who's-who guide to 20th-century Latin American art.

Rivera, Botero, Lam, Matta, Torres-García . . . they're all there thanks to a generous long-term loan to the MFAH from noted Venezuelan collector Tanya Capriles de Brillembourg.

Part of the museum's ongoing efforts to draw Latin American art into a more global discussion of modernism, the exhibition brings together some 100 works to explore the way in which artists sought the bridge the many avant-garde movements flourishing on both sides of Atlantic throughout the last century.

As such, Intersecting Modernities offers a rare glimpse at legendary artists operating outside of their signature style. You see a young pre-mural Diego Rivera working as a colorful cubist, and '60s-era Fernando Botero incorporating elements of Pop Art.

At the center of the show are a pair of rooms respectively filled with pieces by Roberto Matta and Wifredo Lam, two towering giants of Latin American art whose work is rarely seen in the U.S. in these numbers.

Some measuring at least five feet high, Matta's drawings might be mistaken for expansive canvas works.

The Matta room is dominated by large-format drawings created during the Chilean artist's time in New York City during the 1940s, a period marked by his transition from works on paper to the oil paintings that would mark his mature career.

Many measuring almost five feet across, the drawings might be mistaken for expansive canvas works until one notices Matta's trademark biomorphic squiggles are sketched out in pastel and graphite on brown paper. Be sure not to miss 1945's Splitting of the Ego, a sort of Freudian take on Picasso's Guernica from the previous decade.

Featuring nearly 20 paintings and drawings, the Lam room delves into the most pivotal moments of the artist's development in the 1940s and '50s — charting the manner in which he fused his experiences with the avant-garde in France and the United States with the Afro-Cuban traditions of his native Havana.

Intersecting Modernities: Latin American Art from The Brillembourg Capriles Collection will be on display at the MFAH's Beck Building through Sept. 2, 2013.