The Polk Museum of Art has organized the first American museum exhibition of the work of the MADI movement. This exhibition presents an intensive investigation of one of the most enduring art movements today. MADI began in Argentina in the early 1940s under the leadership of Carmelo Arden Quin. Originally from Uruguay, Arden Quin was a leading young member of the Argentinian Avant Garde in the late 1930s and early 1940s, working most notably with Joaquín Torres-García. He was particularly attracted to Torres-García’s movable toys, and began breaking with rectangular forms. MADI was originally part of the Latin American concrete art movements that were the most innovative movements of the 1940s. However, MADI’s ingenuity and sense of fun finally led Arden Quin and the MADI artists to separate themselves from the more rigid fundamentals adhered to by most other concrete artists. Relying on geometric forms rather than organic or even abstracted forms, MADI artists created (and continue to create) paintings that assert their own objecthood as frames were eliminated and canvases were reshaped to suit the artists’ aesthetic desires, years before the works of Ellsworth Kelley and Frank Stella that defined geometric abstraction during the 1960s.
After a few years of working with his small MADI group, Arden Quin moved to Paris where he met artists such as Hans Arp, Francis Picabia, and Nicolas de Staël. MADI was rekindled when Arden Quin met Volf Roitman in 1951. Together they founded the MADI Research and Study Center, an experimental, loosely-formed association of artists and writers that has, over the years, evolved into MADI International, a movement which today consists of more than 60 members working on four continents.
The exhibition will focus primarily on the works of Arden Quin and Roitman from the collections of Bill and Dorothy Masterson of Dallas and Mark and Scarlett Lenherr of London. Also featured are the works of nine artists who represent the geographic, stylistic, and age diversity that defines the movement. Artists from France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States are included. The exhibition will open at Polk Museum of Art on August 18, 2001 and run through October 21. It will then travel to the Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo where it will be on display from November 30, 2001 through January 27, 2002.