MALBA Turns Ten

Malba, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, celebrated its tenth anniversary a few weeks ago with a wine-soaked tripple whammy of an inauguration. Here’s an entry I wrote about it on Juanele’s blog:

The first thing to catch my eye at this past Wednesday’s three-in-one, 10th-anniversary Malba extravaganza wasn’t the glam crowd spilling out from the lobby, nor the twisty-twirly tile number Nushi Muntaabski had done on what used to be the museum’s front-yard fountain — it was the mountain of wineglasses and champagne flutes, some half-full but most bone-dry, that had turned the admissions desk into the strangest centerpiece I had ever seen. The moral of this story: When Malba celebrates its 10th birthday by opening three new exhibits at once, people come — and they drink.

But Wednesday night was about much more than wine — at least for those visitors who ventured beyond the crowded-as-a-cattle-car lobby to the discordantly underpopulated galleries upstairs. In addition to Muntaabski’s plaza — seen publicly for the first time that night — Malba was inaugurating two new shows — a reinstallation of its permanent collection, interspersed with works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and El color en el espacio y en el tiempo (Color in Space and Time), a blockbuster Carlos Cruz-Diez retrospective.

The permanent collection will retain its current arrangement through February 6, 2012, when the works on loan will be sent back to Houston. Organized chronologically, the show is an informative introduction to 20th Century Latin American art, and it’s rich in highlights, including  Tarsila do Amaral‘s wonderful Abaporu, prints by  Xul Solar, a pleasant cubist portrait by  Diego Rivera, and, of course, familiar attention-grabbing canvases by  Frida Kahlo and  Fernando Botero. The Houston additions — particularly  David Alfaro Siqueiros‘ hauntingly titled Concentración (Cabeza de niño) – do help to shake things up a bit, as does the installation’s open layout. Still, regular visitors who had been expecting dramatic change are likely to be disappointed; nether the selection nor the arrangement differ much from the permanent collection’s previous incarnation.

The Cruz-Diez show, in contrast, is just too cool. I won’t say much, as Cruz-Diez more than warrants his own (surely forthcoming) review. I’ll simply note that the exhibition, which does almost magically precise things with color and light, runs through March 5, 2012. You should see it. And given that admission to the museum is free through September 30th, there’s no better time than this week.


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