Lidy Prati Made 1970s Art … in 1948

THE DAILY PIC: The Argentine was inspired by Mondrian. Then left him behind.



THE DAILY PIC (#1528): Serial Composition, by the Argentine artist Lidy Prati, is just the kind of systematic, conceptual abstraction New York was keen on in the early 1970s. Thing is, it was actually painted somewhere around 1948. That’s the kind of lovely wrinkle in (art-historical) time that develops when you travel to new places – in my case, to the MALBA in Buenos Aires, a museum dedicated to Latin American art.

The Netherlander Piet Mondrian is always cited as a crucial influence on Prati, and on Latin American abstraction in general. (He was just as important in the U.S. at the same time, but that moment has been mostly been written into the margins of American art history.) But what interests me about this picture by Prati is how much in “advance” it was of other Mondrian-inspired art of its moment, or even of art by Mondrian.

Rather than being about attractive patterns and compositions, it speaks of a system that can generate them. Computers and their algorithms seem on this painting’s mind, at a moment when computers still filled entire rooms with vacuum tubes.

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