Maria Freire (1917 - 2015)

Untitled (1955)

Screen print on paper
height: 40cm
width: 29cm

Donated by Maria Freire 1997


This is an excellent example not only of Freire's late-1950s work, but also of the general enthusiasm for pure, hard-edge abstract art all over Latin America in the 1940s and 1950s. The composition, consisting of a few delicate but dynamic lines floating in a blue space, suggests a dynamic and optimistic belief in a new abstract future for art. The overall image recalls the compositions of early 20th-century Russian artists like El Lissitzky or Kazimir Malevich. Like those artists, Freire exploits our tendency to read diagonal lines and overlapping forms as spatial recession in order to create an ambiguous visual space that can only exist on a picture plane and not in three dimensions.

Untitled was produced while the artist was in Europe visiting many of the pioneers of abstract art for the first time. Typically for Freire, this composition appears several times in her work, in prints, paintings, and gouaches, as she experimented with different scale and techniques. For many abstract artists, the surface of an artwork should be free of all traces of the artist's hand, and the screenprint technique used in this work is an appropriately impersonal and industrial way of making art. With works such as this, Freire expressed her belief in a rational and objective basis for art, while other Latin American artists, including the Brazilian Neoconcretists, where simultaneously looking for a more subjective and psychological interpretation of European abstraction.

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, 2008

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