Although influenced by Impressionism and Symbolism, the work of Venezuelan artist Armando Reverón (1889–1954) defies stylistic labeling. It is for this reason that, despite its current MoMA-orchestrated introduction to North American audiences, Reverón’s work speaks only to those capable of looking beyond the modernist canon. That John Elderfield, the exhibition’s curator, was capable of achieving precisely this mode of thinking outside the cube merits much recognition.
The chronologically organized show maps the ways in which Reverón manipulated pigment and support to achieve an aesthetic characterized by minimal inflection and maximum affect. Early, heavily textured nocturnal paintings—that is, depictions of figures in dark surroundings, or plein air scenes washed by moonlight—are made with small, thick brushstrokes and represent the artist’s first attempts to build his subjects using a
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