Line as Object

Gertrud Goldschmidt, known as Gego (Hamburg 1912 – 1994 Caracas), was one of the most important women artists in Latin America. Her best-known works are the Reticuláreas – net-like spatial installations she created using thin wire and metal in the late 1960s. Gego rejected the term ‘sculpture’ for her three-dimensional works, as sculpture is traditionally defined by mass and volume, whereas she sought the highest degree of transparency and lightness. Her delicate structures and ‘drawings in space’ offer viewers the paradoxical opportunity to look both at and through them. Gego’s enduring interest in the line as an essential element of artistic creation is clearly evident in her numerous works on paper, prints, artist’s books, watercolours and drawings. She once described her approach as regarding “line as object to play with”. As a trained architect, Gego had a strong feeling for geometric shapes, volumes and objects in space; this knowledge informed her artistic investigations and enabled her to achieve greater freedom and autonomy of line.

Born in Hamburg in 1912, Gego studied architecture under Paul Bonatz at the Technische Hochschule in Stuttgart in the 1930s. In 1939 she emigrated to Venezuela after a brief stay in England. Having settled in Caracas, she initially worked as an architect and furniture designer before devoting her full attention to fine art, by which time she was in her forties. Alongside her artistic practice, Gego taught in the architecture and urban planning department of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas and at a number of other schools.

Gego’s revolutionary and experimental approach to line, sculpture and ‘drawing in space’ had a significant influence on countless Latin American artists and has left its mark on contemporary art far beyond Venezuela. She is less familiar to European audiences, however, and Gego. Line as Object – the most extensive German exhibition to date of the artist’s work – is therefore a rare and valuable opportunity to experience Gego’s art at first hand. Around 120 sculptures and drawings from every stage of her almost 40-year career will be presented in the Hamburger Kunsthalle, including the series Dibujo sin papel (Drawing Without Paper), the playful, small-format works entitled Bichitos (Small Bugs), the net-like Reticuláreas and the Tejeduras (Weavings) from the latter part of her career. The exhibition includes major loans from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), as well as from a number of private collections and the collection of the Fundación Gego in Caracas, which was founded following the artist’s death in 1994.