Cecilia De Torres Ltd - The City as Muse: Works by Lidya Buzio and Sarah Grilo


The City as Muse: Works by Lidya Buzio and Sarah Grilo 2021 Spring

Cecilia de Torres, Ltd. is pleased to present an installation of works by two highly original artists who developed a strong pictorial attachment to New York City, incorporating its urban landscape in their work in different media and through their own formal means.

Argentine artist Sarah Grilo (1919-2007) moved to New York City in 1962 after being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. It was at this critical point that the artist broke from her background in Concrete abstraction and began to incorporate formal elements from the NYC landscape. From the graffiti that ran rampant throughout the City at that time, to the traces of letters and numbers from deteriorating signs and posters, Grilo covered her works with compulsively repetitive, erased, and re-written spontaneous scribbles, all sustained by a hyper-chromatic sensibility ranging from the most resplendent of golds to the deepest of violets, and from the loudest of turquoise and fuchsias, to the palest of yellows and sky blues. In 1970, Grilo left her urban muse to move to Europe where she lived the remainder of her life.

Lidya Buzio (1948-2014), the Uruguayan American ceramist, moved to New York City in the early 1970s, and fell in love with downtown New York. Her new urban environment inspired her to create her signature New York Cityscapes through her work with clay. Buzio’s fascinations were downtown New York’s evocative rooflines, its cast iron architecture, and water towers. Known for her conflation of sculpture and painting, Buzio went beyond the medium of pottery to create her very own genre. Using special pigments which she mixed herself, the artist drew and painted directly onto her unfired works and burnished her pieces before firing, resulting in the unique luminosity and distinctive hues that characterize her artworks.

Like two ships in the night inspired by different elements of New York City’s urban aesthetic, both artists created lyrical compositions that enable us to witness their process: from Grilo’s drips of paint and gestural markings, to Buzio’s luminous hues and original use of the medium of clay.

The City as Muse: Works by Lidya Buzio and Sarah Grilo. Exhibition Press Release

Lidya Buzio

b. 1948, Montevideo, Uruguay -  d. 2014, Greenport, New York

A unique talent in the world of ceramics, Buzio learned to create, form, and shape clay sculptures from the master ceramicist José Collell, based on ancient Amerindian practices.  Buzio continued to work within this same method, cutting earthenware slabs into geometric shapes, and then combining these cylinders, cones, and hemispheres to form the body of her sculptures.  Using special pigments which she mixed herself, the artist drew and painted directly onto her unfired works.  Before firing, Buzio burnished her pieces; this step serves to fuse the paint into the clay and results in the unique luminosity and distinctive hues that characterize her artworks. 

After moving to New York in the early 70s', Buzio's pictorial vocabulary shifted to reflect her new urban surroundings, inspiring her to create her New York Cityscapes, with their evocative rooflines, cast iron architecture, and water towers.  Her last series of abstract geometric designs executed in bright primary colors, represented a new direction in her practice. 

Buzio's ceramics are found in the Brooklyn Museum New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas; the Honolulu Academy of Art, Hawaii; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the National Museum of History and the Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan.  Buzio’s work is also included in several other international museums and private collections.

Please click for Chronology and CV

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.

Please click for CV