Artwork of the Week
Manuel Felguérez was part of Mexico’s Generación de la Ruptura, whose members favored post-war abstraction and broke away from the representational muralist tradition practiced by Diego Rivera and others. Felguérez, along with artists Carlos Mérida and Gunther Gerzso, took inspiration from European modernism and ancient Mexican art to explore more contemporary approaches. Felguérez briefly studied art in Mexico City, but facing both political and artistic stigma, he soon left for Paris where he studied at two art academies and worked with Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine.
Contrition is composed of flowing, polished forms that bring to mind both the smooth organic shapes in works by Henry Moore and the dripping or dissolving objects in paintings by Salvador Dalí. While the composition appears fully abstract, the hanging shape in the inner spatial cavity can be read as a figurative element such as a tear, a symbol in keeping with the work’s title. Felguérez once said of his work, “I want not to create form in space but form that creates space, movement that creates space.”
The artist opened The Manuel Felguérez Abstract Art Museum in 1998 in the city of his birth, Zacatecas. A sculptor, painter, and educator for thirty years, Felguérez died of COVID-19 at the age of 91 on June 8, 2020.
Manuel Felguérez (Mexican, 1928-2020), Contrition, 1958, bronze, 44 x 28 x 20 inches. Gift of Gwendolyn Weiner, 83-1980.