My walk through New York’s El Museo del Barrio’s riveting optical exhibition The Illusive Eye was a dizzying and uplifting experience. The show functions as a direct response to an exhibition at the MoMA in 1965 titled The Responsive Eye, which showcased European kinetic and op art artists while disregarding the progressive and visually similar art created in Latin America during the same time.
As my eyes moved around the four sections, they followed the lines of Jesús Rafael Soto’s vertigo-inducing objects, got caught in Julio Le Parc’s weightless glass sculptures and Gregorio Vardanega spinning Ritmo Alegre. I was transported through galleries dedicated to the “Optical Sublime” to “Mandalas and Dervishes.” Mariana Apollonio’s installation Spazio ad Attivazione Cinetica 6B captured me in its own room, deceiving my eyes with its black and white, seemingly three-dimensional circles. The last section “Kinetic cascades” showcases the resplendent work by Carlos Cruz-Diez Transchromie Dames A, the translucent panels finally giving my eyes a point of focus.
Executive Director and curator of the show Jorge Daniel Veneciano excellently juxtaposes artists of the earlier 1965 show with their Latin American counterparts to emphasize the similarities in artistic production even further. With Josef Albers’ Study Homage to the Square: Growing Mellow alongside Hermelindo Fiaminghi’s Cor-Luz Sperposiçao de Quadros em Transparencia, these masters are truly being recognized in the context of the art historical canon after 51 years.
The Illusive Eye will be on view at El Museo del Barrio until May 21st 2016.
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