Collection

    María Freire (1917 - 2015)

    BIOGRAPHY

    María Freire is one of the Southern Cone's most productive and engaged, if also one of the least-known, artists working in the Constructivist tradition. Born in Montevideo in 1917, she trained at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in that city from 1938 to 1943. Her first sculpture, such as Cabeza-Abstracción, indicate the profound influence of African art on her work, something of an anomaly for an artist in South America at that time.

    In the early 1950s, after meeting her future husband, the artist José Pedro Costigliolo, her art became more influenced by European non-figurative art, such as Art Concret group, Georges Vantongerloo, and Max Bill. In 1952 she was a co-founder of the Arte No-Figurativo group in Montevideo, and exhibited with them in 1952 and 1953. In 1953 Freire and Costigliolo were invited to the 2nd Sao Paulo Bienal, where they came into contact with Brazil's enthusiasm for abstract geometrical art. In 1957 Freire and Costigliolo won a travel prize to Europe, and traveled throughout various European nations until 1960, meeting many of the historical pioneers of abstract art, including Antoine Pevsner and Georges Vantongerloo. In 1959 they exhibited in Brussels, at the Galerie Contemporain.

    By 1960, Freire began to experiment with looser forms of abstraction, and a more expressive range of colours. From the 1960s to the 1990s, Freire fell into almost complete invisibility, despite her constant and prolific production. She continued to experiment and develop visual languages over the years, often switching between periods of greater or lesser degrees of abstraction. In the mid-1990s, the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America became the first public institution to actively collect her work, assembling a representative selection of her major visual styles. By 2000, her work began to be accepted in Uruguay, and she began to be included in national and international exhibitions, and produced large-scale public sculpture in Uruguay.

    Reference
    Pérez-Barreiro, Gabriel, María Freire (Sao Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2001)

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