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Osvaldo Romberg, Goodbye to Painting, 2015.
Osvaldo Romberg, Goodbye to Painting, 2015.

Osvaldo Romberg (1938–2019)

The Argentinian artist, curator, and educator Osvaldo Romberg, whose interdisciplinary conceptual practice probed color theory, linguistics, and Eurocentric art histories, has died. Born in Buenos Aires in 1938, Romberg trained in painting and architecture at universities in the capital and taught at the University of Tucumán in northwest Argentina before the onset of the so-called Dirty War—the junta’s brutal campaign against suspected left-wing opponents from 1976 to 1983—forced him to emigrate.

Throughout five decades of activity across as many continents, the artist maintained an aesthetic and philosophical curiosity in the formal constraints and possibilities of the grid and representation. Romberg’s artmaking and scholarship at times addressed a faction of rebellious Latin American practitioners of what he dubbed “Dirty Geometry,” a continuation of European abstraction that, he argued, broke from theoretical frameworks. Donald Kuspit, reviewing Romberg’s art in the April 2013 issue of Artforum, said that his abstract painting “achieves a dramatic intensity and moody power that is as emotionally resonant and intellectually complex as an old-master painting.”

For nearly twenty years, Romberg served as a professor of art at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. More recently, he taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and served as a senior curator and cofounder at the Slought Foundation, Philadelphia. His work has been exhibited at numerous institutions, including the Negev Museum of Art, Beersheba (2018); the Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires (2012); and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2011). Among the museums to collect his work are the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; the Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; the Ludwig Museum, Cologne; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.