Wednesday, 6 March 2013


the Neo-NeoClassical Post-Post Modern Galeria de Arte Nacional, inaugurated in 2009 during the Chavez regime

Grand Masters of Venezuelan Art at the Galeria de Arte Nacional, Information desk

I waited for three hours for somebody to appear in the bookshop so I could buy a Claudio Perna catalogue. It never happened.

Galeria Nacional, exhibition rooms. Notice, that if not for my model, most of the museums are without visitors, on a normal week day.

great Armando Reverón (1889–1954) paintings

and this is the room where they exhibit Reverón, Venezuela's greatest painter, together with about 20 chairs to see some videos of his life

a 'high tech' stair takes visitors to the second floor, where art from the second half of the XX century is exhibited

work by Claudio Perna, Proposal of a Monument for Simon Rodriguez, 1985

texts by Simon Rodriguez, American Societies, how they are, and how they will be from 1828. Simon Rodriguez was tutor of Bolivar, and considered by some the first Latin American political/conceptual writer

Alejandro Otero's Coloritmos

Cruz Diez model for Cromosaturation, 1965

works by Gego

The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

the old logo of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The indigenous frog logo, which substituted the above, and unified all the logos of the cultural institutions in Venezuela

All the logos that disappeared to be substituted by the frog one, an investigation by artist Alessandro Balteo Yazbek from the series Modern Entanglements, 2006 (here exhibited at the 2nd San Juan Triennial in Puerto Rico in 2009)
"Graphic design in Venezuela has been marked by both European influences and the assimilation of autochthonous elements. With the creation and evolution of cultural institutions museums, universities, foundations, research institutes in the second half of the 20th century, emblems and logotypes were created to convey and define their identities and specific functions ( ... ) In 2006 the institutional crisis spawned by authoritarianism gave way to the substitution of a single umbrella image for the 35 institutional emblems and logotypes. The image imposed by the Minister of Culture, and purportedly attributed to the Panare ethnic group, does away with decades of work by generations of graphic designers. In 2008, in collaboration with the designers Aixa Diaz and Alvaro Sotillo, I compiled some of the obliterated institutional emblems and identified their authors and dates. Their forms are extremely sophisticated and evidence different strategies of hybridization between canonical modernist forms and autochthonous, pre-Hispanic influences." ABY

The Calder sculpture in the patio of Caracas Museo de Bellas Artes, fortunately it wasn't sold, like the one in Mexico

interior of Caracas' Museo of Bellas Artes, where on on January 16, 1963 a group of young political dissidents kidnapped the following paintings: THE BATHERS by Cézanne, STILL LIFE by Paul Gauguin, FLOWERS IN A COPPER VASE by Vincent van Gogh, STILL LIFE by Picasso, and STILL LIFE WITH PEARS by Georges Braque. (Read more about the famous robbery at Gabriela Rangel's essay in Parkett 79, 2007)

Diego Rivera's pre revolutionary muralism cubist painting, Las Naranjas, 1917

Alejandro Otero's Tokyo collage, 1965

and the very populist First Landscape Salon, where all the landscape painters of the country were invited to exhibit their work, (the dream of participatory European curators, the museum exhibiting the people!)

Joseph Kosuth's Humboldt's Range, 1995, the neon is broken and hasn't worked since long long time ago

the exhibition rooms of the Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes) now transformed into a museum of indigenous and popular cultures. Sadly no one inside, no revolutionary barrio dwellers, no indigenous inhabitants learning from their culture, no school children...

a Soto Penetrable souvenir, available to buy from the museum's shop

Alejandro Otero's Estructura Solar, 1985 in the museum's gardens

a 1975 publication on the glory days of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas and some of the works on the collection and some of the exhibitions done until then

graphic design by Nedo, Gego's husband

pre-Colombian art of Mexico and Costa Rica in 1969

a Henry Moore exhibition in 1964

a ceramics exhibition in 1966

a Gerd Leufert exhibition in 1966

Gego's reticularia and the Guri petrogliphs

another Otero sculpture abandoned in the junky plaza in front of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo

the facade of Caracas' Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, visited on a Saturday, again very quiet and without many visitors

Museum's plaque in honour of its founder Sofia Imber, who directed the museum from its opening in 1974 until she was fired by Chavez in his tv programme Alo Presidente in 2001.

The room with Picassos, where the Henri Matisse's 'Odalisque in Red Pants' used to be, before it was stolen and replaced by a copy, which hung in the room until 2002 when somebody noticed it was not the original. Read more about this robbery here.

Marc Chagall's Night Carnival next to a Calder mobile, European and North American works of art bought during the so called Venezuela Saudita (Saudi Venezuela) years of the 1970s, when the excess of money from the oil bonanza accentuated and accelerated the social and class differences, and where the oligarchy and the noveau rich didn't want to see the social revolution around the corner that this differences were promoting... The Bolivarian Revolution, sadly (and like most revolutions) created a new oligarchy, who bought new art and luxuries for their mansions, but this time feeding the cake of populism to the people, in order to keep them happy and blind to the new corruption and abuses of power...

a Calder mobile

an exhibition of photographs of the Venezuela Saudita years by Alirio Jose Sigala (1940-1995) at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo

'Memories of Unequal Development', Venezuela's elite of the time in line for a buffet at a wedding or gala, photographed by Sigala in 1977

Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera photographed by Sigala in 1971

a Soto

some Gegos

designs by Nedo, 1973

Eugenio Espinosa, 1972

Cruz Diez


and the open wound of Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale, 1968
a metaphor for Venezuela's deep wound waiting to heal.

The truth is long ago the Museums in Caracas stopped being the place for Venezuelan artists to exhibit any contemporary or critical discourse. Those that were not forced into exile soon found that their work was of no interest to the institutions, and the once glorious museums of Caracas, which were once the envy of Latin American contemporary art stopped being the place where art happened, and where art and the public met.

link to the Caracas National System of Museum's website here

visit here December 2010 post, when the Alejandro Otero Museum in Caracas was transformed into a Human Shelter

and here this blog's Caracas Art and Exhibition Report, November 2012

and Jaime Gili's Caracas Barrios Art Project here


  1. Gracias Don Pablo

  2. Pablo, gracias por este detallado recorrido, sin duda que retrata claramente la situaciôn de los museos en Venezuela desde hace un buen tiempo. Ni qué decir de la investogaciôn en artes visuales, es un desastre. El "catâlogo" tiene al menos dos agnos que no estâ en funcionamiento y el sistema de fichas no funciona porque reorganizaron las colecciones segûn nuevos criterios.