Cecilia De Torres Ltd - Sarah Grilo and the Urban Unconscious


Sarah Grilo and the Urban Unconscious 2018 Autumn-Winter

Cecilia de Torres, Ltd. is pleased to present a selection of works by Argentine artist Sarah Grilo (1919-2007) that were created following her time in New York City from 1962 to 1970.
“The Urban Unconscious” is comprised of paintings and works on paper from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s that capture the formal elements which Grilo absorbed from the urban landscape that surrounded her during these eight pivotal years.

Grilo moved to New York City in 1962 upon receiving a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship, and it was at this point that her work took a radical turn. Grilo broke from her background in Concrete abstraction, and began to incorporate—through her own unconscious formal means—the urban references that surrounded her: from the graffiti that ran rampant throughout the city’s walls, to the traces of letters, numbers, and symbols in various fonts and typographies that peeled off the posters plastered around the city streets.
Grilo’s appropriations during her stay in 1960s New York continued to define her work over the course of the remaining decades, all while maintaining an acute sensibility to color in her highly lyrical and gestural compositions.

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Sarah Grilo

b. 1919, Buenos Aires, Argentina - d. 2007, Madrid, Spain

Sarah Grilo began her early studies in figurative painting with the renowned Spanish artist, Vicente Puig. Grilo subsequently lived in Spain and France from 1948 to 1950 before returning to Argentina. Two years later, she formed part of the “Grupo de Artistas Modernos de la Argentina” created by the Argentine poet, essayist, and art critic, Aldo Pellegrini. This school of Concrete artists included Enio Iommi, Tomás Maldonado, Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati, and José Antonio Fernández-Muro, amongst others. The group held exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. In 1956, Grilo was part of the envoy to the Venice Biennial. A year later, she and her husband, the artist José Antonio Fernández-Muro, moved to Paris where they lived for the following four years.

Upon Grilo’s return to her native Argentina in 1961, the artist was awarded a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship which brought her to New York City in 1962, where she would remain for the next eight years. It was at this time that the artist broke from Concrete abstraction and began incorporating urban references in her work such as pieces and traces of letters, numbers, signs, and symbols in various fonts and typographies. Grilo’s formal appropriations during the 1960s anticipated that of graffiti artists. Her highly lyrical compositions and acute sensibility to color continued to define Grilo’s work over the course of the remaining decades.

In 1970, the artist left New York City with her husband and their two children, alternating between living in Paris and Madrid before moving to Spain permanently in 1985 for the remainder of her life.

Sarah Grilo’s work can be found in a number of prestigious collections and has been exhibited in various institutions, including: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York  The Nelson Rockefeller Collection, New York; The Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C.; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Stedelijk Museum of Art, Amsterdam; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, amongst others. Most recently, Grilo’s work was shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) groundbreaking 2017 exhibition, Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction.

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