Commentary on Dynamic of the wind (Dinámica del viento)
Emilio Pettoruti’s importance as an inevitable reference in thinking about the beginnings of abstraction in Argentina has been revised in recent years by way of two exhibitions: Arte abstracto argentino (2002-2003) and Yente/Prati (2009) which included his abstract drawings within a larger whole. Similarly, the prices obtained not long ago on the international market for pieces like Espanzione dinamica (Dynamic Expansion, 1914) indicate that—above and beyond historical fluctuations in assessments of his work on the part of local and international historiography—these drawings continue to occupy a key position in the history of abstract art.Dinámica del viento (Dynamics of the Wind) can be thought of within this overall context, with considerations that situate his production from the 1914-1916 period. To begin with, it is valid to highlight the plurality of lines along which he was working at that time: it is when he makes his first collage pieces, in addition to abstract paintings and drawings. Aside from this, he also undertook studies of other traditional techniques such as mosaic, in which his contributions in the search for new chromatic-luminous effects are well known. In December, 1913, just a few months after Pettoruti had arrived in Florence, the Esposizione d’arte futurista Lacerba show was held. From that point onward, the road he would follow and the decisions he would make would differentiate this young 21-year old man from the large majority of other Latin American artists who were his contemporaries. In spite of the fact that, when the time came to (re)write his own history, Pettoruti sought to point out the differences between his investigations and those of the futurists and especially Giacomo Balla (1), some facts do exist that cannot be overlooked. Firstly, the artist reached abstraction from two different points of departure. On the one hand, he was working “directly with the sensation of dynamics in abstract space, not as the observation of an object in movement in real space. It is a matter of studying energy’s force and expansion in a time-space continuum without looking for a support that might make it materialize” (2). In this regard, his drawings’ titles are significant: for example, Forze centrifughe (Centrifugal Forces) and Dinamica spaziale (Spatial Dynamics); the use of color is eliminated in all of them, understood to be an element of “distraction”, which resulted in monochrome works. On the other hand, his arrival at abstraction came as the result of studies he made on the basis of analyses of works by Renaissance artists who, in the case of those from the Beato Angelico, led to studies of color, its relations and harmonies as a function of its proportional distribution on the plane. This meant that Pettoruti also transformed the practical tradition of learning by copying great masters into a previously unheard of rereading of their underlying formal and compositional principles. While these are some of the basic considerations to keep in mind in order to comprehend Dinámica del viento, it is also worthwhile to recall that in December of 1914 he had already sent four works to the Prima Esposizione Invernale Toscana, among which there were two drawings identified as Armonia (Circoli) (disegno astratto) (Harmony (Circles) (abstract drawing)). This decision reveals how fully aware the artist was of the importance of his line of work at the time, which also situates him among the first artists—the other was Balla, with Velocità astratta (Abstract Velocity, 1914)—to have identified their works as abstract from the very title, which is undoubtedly no minor detail.
by Patricia M. Artundo
1— Cf. Annateresa Fabris, “A temporada italiana de Pettoruti: considerações sobre um relato autobiográfico”, paper presented at the Simpósio de la Associação Brasileira de Críticos da Arte, Porto Alegre, November 7 and 8, 1999.
2— Marcelo E. Pacheco, “La Argentina y una mirada travestida: Emilio Pettoruti entre los espejos” in: Gustavo Curiel; Renato González Mello and Juana Gutiérrez Haces (ed.), Arte, historia e identidad en América: visiones comparativas. XVII Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte. Mexico City, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM, 1994, vol. 3, p. 799.
1968. PETTORUTI, Emilio, Un pintor ante el espejo. Buenos Aires, Solar/Hachette, p. 51-54.
1987. NESSI, Ángel Osvaldo, Emilio Pettoruti un clasico de la vanguardia, prólogo de Jorge Romero Brest. Buenos Aires, Estudio de Arte, no 38, reprod.