MoMA boosts Latin American holdings with Cisneros collection

by Julia Halperin / THE ART NEWSPAPER / / In The News

The Venezuelan collectors have given more than 100 works to the New York museum ahead of expansion

The Venezuelan collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and her husband Gustavo Cisneros have donated 102 works of Latin American art to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the museum announced today, 17 October. The gift of art spanning the 1940s to the 90s by 37 artists working in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay cements the museum’s place as a leading hub for the study of Latin American art in the US.

Cisneros, a long-time patron of the museum who founded its Latin American and Caribbean fund in 2006, has been collecting art since the 1970s. Her holdings include work by pioneers of geometric abstraction including Jesús Rafael Soto, Gego and Alejandro Otero.

The gift also establishes a research institute at the museum dedicated to the study of Latin American art, which will host visiting scholars, produce publications and organize conferences.

The works in the Cisneros collection were not in vogue when Patricia Cisneros started collecting them 40 years ago. During the formal announcement of the gift on Monday, she recalled tracking them down in the living rooms of fellow collectors and in the back rooms of a small handful of galleries. “There were only two galleries in Brazil at the time that carried these works—if you went into the back room and had a duster with you to dust the works off,” Cisneros said.

Today, these artists are considered major players in the development of Modernism. But few have achieved the status of their American and European peers. “I truly believe all of these artists have been under-recognised,” Cisneros said.  More than 20 of the artists included in the gift are new to the museum’s collection.

An exhibition of works drawn from the Cisneros gift will be among the first shows to inaugurate MoMA’s expansion, which is expected to open by 2020. In the meantime, the works will be integrated into the museum’s existing collection displays. “You’ll see how the works literally fit alongside their European and American contemporaries,” Glenn Lowry, MoMA’s director, said during the announcement.

The 102 paintings, works on paper and sculptures will join 40 works by Latin-American artists donated by the couple over the past 16 years.