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León Ferrari

Argentinian  •  1920-2013

Biography

León Ferrari was a defining figure in Argentine conceptual art. He was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, among other prestigious awards. During his youth, Ferrari began creating artworks while studying Engineering in Rome. Returning to Buenos Aires, he began to create art that dealt with heavy subjects such as inequality, power and discrimination, championing a sense of urgency to understand the destructive and poetic potential of these societal issues.

One particularly controversial work, La Civilización Occidental y Cristiana (Western Christian Civilization), was exhibited in 1965 and promptly censured by the Catholic Church, as the sculpture features a store-bought Jesus figure crucified to a U.S. fighter jet. However, Ferrari is probably best known for his "written drawings" that feature compositions of abstracted handwriting created in various mediums, conveying emotion and visual poetry.

Insights

  • Ferrari's father, also an artist, painted religious frescoes and advised his son not to study art because of the low financial prospects.

  • During the mid-1960s, Ferrari made increasingly political art, causing him to flee to Brazil during this politically tumultuous time in Argentina. His son was one of the many that disappeared and was presumed dead during the Argentinean dictatorship.

"I draw silent handwritten words, which tell things, with lines that recall voices. And I write drawings that recite memories that words cannot say."

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