New York

León Ferrari and Mira Schendel

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

A PAIR OF PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITS of the artists adorn the entrance of the Museum of Modern Art’s joint retrospective “Tangled Alphabets: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel,” the first major North American survey for either of these two key figures of postwar Latin American art. Similarly framed, equally expressionless, and each flanked by abstract sculptures, the two artists look strikingly alike. This coincidence reflects the show’s primary operation: The dearth of actual historical connections between Ferrari and Schendel is repeatedly eclipsed by immediate visual affinities. While a retrospective of even one of these early exponents of what critic Craig Owens once called the “eruption of language into the field of the visual arts” would have been welcome and overdue, curator Luis Pérez-Oramas has a more ambitious aim: for the artists to clarify each other’s contributions through a series

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