“I have never been wrong about you. You’re a painter. That is why the
first time we met I said you reminded me of someone: me”
“With regard to life, modern painting is a revolutionary activity… We need it in order to transform the world into a more humane place where mankind can live in liberty… We must accept these things with passion. It means that we must live imaginatively.”
Galerie Gmurzynska is proud to announce the inauguration of its New York location at Madison Ave. and 78th Street, with a retrospective of the groundbreaking modernist painter Wifredo Lam.
Presented in collaboration with the family of the artist, the show will include an important group of major paintings ranging from rarely seen masterpieces from the 1930s and ‘40s to signature works from the 1960s and 70s, rounding out a chronological overview of five decades of constant creative evolution.
Lam is internationally recognized today as one of the pioneers of modernism in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Born in Cuba, he was an artist of mixed Chinese, Spanish and African heritage who drew upon the myriad influences of his multi-cultural upbringing to develop a unique and hybrid style of painting that was not only admired and collected by fellow artists and writers such as Pablo Picasso and André Breton, but resonated with the tumultuous political, social and cultural context of the 20th century and an emerging post-colonial world. His career has been recently celebrated with a major retrospective in 2015 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which travelled to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, and the Tate Modern in London.
LAM IN AMERICA
Wifredo Lam had three solo shows at the Pierre Matisse gallery in New York in the 1940s, and participated in several group shows, having his work displayed together with paintings by Miró, Chagall, and Léger. As early as 1939, the famous Perls Galleries mounted a group exhibition featuring drawings by Picasso and gouaches by Lam. This was the first ever exhibition of the work of Wifredo Lam in the USA. A few years later, in 1942, the Museum of Modern Art under its legendary director Alfred H. Barr acquired Lam’s Mother and Child for its permanent collection through the Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. purchase Fund, this being the first acquisition of a painting by Wifredo Lam before the purchase of The Jungle in 1945. In 1942, André Breton included works on paper by Lam, alongside works by Max Ernst, Fernand Léger and Yves Tanguy among others, in the largest Surrealism exhibition ever shown in the USA: First Papers of Surrealism, organized by Breton and Duchamp at the Whitelaw Reid Mansion in midtown Manhattan. Soon after, Lam had his first solo exhibition with Pierre Matisse: within four years, Wifredo Lam had progressed from being viewed in association with the exile Surrealists to being considered part of the new art emerging in New York.
Lam’s numerous exhibitions and achievements in the USA include a fellowship to the Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in 1958, and the selection for the Guggenheim International Award of merit in 1964.
The exhibition Wifredo Lam “Le nouveau Nouveau Monde” will be accompanied by a 340 pages monograph published by Galerie Gmurzynska with numerous essays, documentary photographs, and illustration of paintings.