Texas Observer: I had been interested in seeing this exhibit ever since I saw reports about it last summer from Buenos Aires and noticed that it was coming to Houston. How did the Museum of Fine Arts become the U.S. host? Dr. Ramirez: Well, Xul Solar has been from the very beginning one of the artists we targeted as a priority to be represented in the collection of this museum, as well as to do exhibitions of his work. He is a major figure of the Latin American avant garde who is known in specialized circles in the United States, but his work is not really known by U.S. audiences. The focus of what we are trying to do here at the Museum of Fine Arts is precisely to introduce to U.S. audiences major figures of the Latin American avant garde that have not received the kind of exposure that they should. Xul Solar was a perfect figure for that. He is a unique artist and his significance really transcends Latin America. TO: Why is that? What’s his involvement in international movements? Dr. Ramirez: He was not so much involved in international movements. He lived in Europe between 1912 and 1924 and absorbed the influences of course of all the major movements of the time beginning with Cubism, German Expressionism, and Dadaism. So he was really imbued with all the latest currents, but managed to make out of them something that was very much his own. It was a utopian vision of society and a utopian vision of the role of art in that society. TO: I’ve seen references to Xul as being Klee-like. Is that as good a way as any to communicate what he was like or what people can expect to see? Dr. Ramirez: When you see Xul’s work the most likely point of reference is Paul Klee because they both worked with watercolor, they both worked with very fanciful figures. They also worked with this very flat base that is very transparent and at the same time creates Opposite page: “Jefa,” 1923. a very magical state. They also incor This page: “Jefa Honra,” 1923 “Pareja,” porate Cubism and of course German All artwork by Xul Solar. Images courtesy of the Houston Museum of Fine Art. MARCH 24, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25
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