As a pioneer of modernist art in Argentina, Emilio Pettoruti (1892-1971) created an uproar with his scandalous avant-garde exhibit held at the Galería Witcomb in Buenos Aires on October 13, 1924. The widely conservative art community considered his cubist paintings shocking and insulting to the country's dignity, so much so that guards were actually put in place to protect the works from being ruined by the throng of angry attendees and fist fights broke out on Florida Street in front of the Gallery!
Cabeza de Arlequín, c. 1940, oil on cardboard, 29.8 x 25.4 cm. Sotheby's, 2008
El Cantor, 1934, oil on canvas, 81 x 60 cm. Christie's 2008
El Improvisador, 1937, oil on canvas, 196 x 138 cm. MNBA, Argentina
El Hombre de la Flor Amarilla, 1932, oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm. Private collection
La Señorita del Sombre Verde, 1919, oil on canvas, 56.2 x 46 cm. Sotheby's 2008
Pensierosa, 1920, oil on canvas, 64 x 49 cm. Natalia Kohem Collection
Testa di Donna, 1920, oil on board, 61.5 x 38 cm. Christie's 2007
Bailarines, 1918, oil on canvas, 77 x 55 cm. Museo Emilio Caraffa
Vino Rosso, 1940, oil on canvas, 65 x 80 cm
El Sifón, 1915, collage on cardboard, 46 x 36 cm. MNBA, Argentina
Quinteto, 1927, oil on canvas, 149.5 x 131.5 cm. Private collection
La Cancíon del Pueblo, 1927, oil on board, 73.8 x 64.7 cm. MALBA
Emilio Pettoruti (1892-1971)
Artist: Emilio Pettoruti
Birth: October 1, 1892, La Plata, Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
Death: October 16, 1971, Paris, France
Studied: At 14 years old he enrolled in La Plata Provincial Academy of Fine Arts, but dropped out as he felt he could learn more on his own. He also studied briefly at the Academia de Bella Artes, Florence, Italy.
Style Influences: Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, Geometric Abstraction
Points of Interest:
• Encouraged by his grandfather, he began painting at 11 years old.
• In 1913 the government of Buenos Aires awarded Pettoruti a grant to study in Italy, where he interacted with Europe's avant-garde artists and became involved with the growing Futurist movement.
• While in Italy he earned his living doing stage and costume design for the ballet
• While in Paris in 1924 he became friends with Cubist artist Juan Gris, who greatly influenced his work.
• The President of Argentina's last words to Pettoruti before his controversial 1924 exhibit at the Galería Witcomb were pray "you won't need the municipal health services this afternoon!" (See book link below)
• In 1927 he switched from works depicting musicians to those of harlequins; it has been noted that the eyes are always covered or hidden in these pieces. Pettoruti felt that depicting harlequins allowed him to paint an "anonymous" human figure.
• He was concerned with the "golden ratio" and once said that painting was only about color and construction.
Go to- Emilio Pettoruti's Wikipedia page
Go to- The Pettoruti Foundation website
Go to- Chapter in his book A Painter Before the MIrror about the crazy 1924 Witcomb exhibit (see pg 137)
Go to- Brief biography