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Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship at Americas Society

Xul Solar's Painting Titled Buenos Aires

(Buenos Aires by Xul Solar. Courtesy of Americas Society)

April 02, 2013

On view through July 20, 2013 and travelling to the Phoenix Art Museum from September 21 through December 31, 2013
Curated by Gabriela Rangel with the collaboration of Lila Zemborain
Press Preview: Thursday, April 18, 2013, 5:30 p.m.

New York, April 2, 2013 - Americas Society is proud to present Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship, an exhibition that explores friendship as a cosmopolitan agency that informed Argentine art and culture through the intellectual exchange between the mystic artist Xul Solar (1887-1963) and the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1985.) The Art of Friendship focuses on the fraternal dialogue and collaborations between Solar and Borges, the most singular cultural figures in Buenos Aires in the twentieth century who contributed to the philosophical and aesthetic renewal in Argentina in the 1920s by cultivating a form of “fluid nationalism.” The exhibition is curated by Gabriela Rangel, director of visual arts and chief curator at Americas Society with the collaboration of poet Lila Zemborain and the assistance of Christina de Leon and Anya Pantuyeva. It will be on view from April 18 through July 20, 2013, travelling in the fall to the Phoenix Art Museum. For Gabriela Rangel, “Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges were central to the process of invention of a local universal identity, which seems paradoxical, but is rather extraordinary and unique.”

The exhibition covers over forty years of friendship between Solar and Borges, who met after their return from Europe in 1924, in the literary and artistic circles of the journal-magazine Martin Fierro and collaborated on different projects until Solar’s death in 1963. In the search of a new Argentine avant-garde identity, Borges and Solar, along with other martinfierristas, developed a Neo-Creole identity that fused the tactics of the European modernists with nationalist ideas and the gaucho vernacular culture.  Nonetheless, each developed distinct voices within this group: Borges reinventing the slums and unpaved streets of Buenos Aires’ suburbs, and Xul creating new languages Neo-Creole and Pan-Language as well as fantastic landscapes filled with monstrous figures in which he blended mystic and occult references with Pan-American symbolism. As Sylvia Molloy has suggested, Borges and Solar seek difference rather than assimilation acting as born-exiles in an environment of fervent avant-garde debates and nationalisms. Both constituted a visual metaphor that built the core for this new conception of the local cosmopolitan self. During their countless walks around the city, chess games, and while listening to music, the two discussed the poetry and art of William Blake, the mysticism of Emanuel Swedenborg, theology of angels, German Idealism, and non-Western religions and languages. Borges and Solar forged a lifetime friendship while discovering and contributing to the identity of Buenos Aires in the process of the invention of their own.

The Art of Friendship departs from a speculative lineage on friendship construed by thinkers such as Aristotle, Cicero, Michel de Montaigne, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Rorty, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and Jacques Derrida who have examined fraternal exchange as an instance of civic agency. Friendship is also considered as a space of social and political interaction, which enables the tracing of genealogical maps that identify vast networks of solidarity and communities. The show gathers an important number of paintings, first editions, and manuscripts—some of which have never left Argentina—as a means to explore the intellectual nature of the relationship between Solar and Borges and the definition of friendship at large as a private agency with public effects. Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship is organized by Americas Society with the collaboration of Museo Xul Solar in Buenos Aires. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions by Patricia Artundo, Sergio Baur, Maria Kodama, Gabriela Rangel, and Sylvia Molloy, in addition to a plaquette with original poems by Monica de La Torre, Cecilia Vicuña, and Lila Zemborain inspired by Solar’s astral voyages or San Signos

Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship is made possible by the generous support of the Ministry of Culture of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires, Aeropuertos Argentina 2000, the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, Erica Roberts, Alejandro Quentin, Eduardo Grüneisen, Fundación Rozenblum, and Veronica Zoani de Nutting. In-kind support is graciously provided by Arte al Día.


On View
April 18-July 20, 2013

Gallery hours:

Wednesday to Saturday
12 p.m.–6 p.m.
Americas Society
680 Park Avenue at 68th Street
NY, New York 10065
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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Press Preview
5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Chief Curator and Director of Visual Arts at Americas Society Gabriela Rangel will host the media and will be available for interviews.

Panel Discussion: On Friendship and Cosmopolitanism in Argentine Art and Literature
6:30 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.
A reception will follow

Speakers: Patricia Artundo (Museo Xul Solar), Sergio Baur (Independent Scholar), Maria Kodama (Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges). Moderated by Gabriela Rangel.
In conjunction with Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship, contributors to the exhibition’s catalogue will examine the creation of a cosmopolitan movement in the midst of the cultural effervescence occurring within Buenos Aires in the 1920s. The panel will touch upon the development of a distinct local identity informed by the European avant-garde, which was epitomized by the friendship between artist Xul Solar and writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Poetry Reading: Visions on the Trilline
Thursday, May 2, 2013
7:00 p.m.
A reception will follow

In conjunction with Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship, Mónica de la Torre (Poet and Translator), Cecilia Vicuña (Visual Artist and Filmmaker) and Lila Zemborain (Poet and Critic), accompanied by Christopher Leland Winks (Translator), will read the poems especially commissioned for the exhibition´s catalogue, as well as explain their composition process. The poems are inspired by Xul Solar´s San Signos, a book based on the artist´s astral voyages written in neo-creole. The event will be held in Spanish and English with a reception to follow. This event is part of the KJCC Poetry Series.

Exhibition Tour with Gabriela Rangel
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
6:30 p.m.

Curator Gabriela Rangel will lead a guided tour of the exhibition Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship.
Exhibition Tour With Christina de León
Tuesday, July 2nd 2013
6:30 p.m.

Assistant Curator Christina De León will lead a guided tour of the exhibition Xul Solar and Jorge Luis Borges: The Art of Friendship.

Press Inquiries: Contact Adriana La Rotta at or 1-212-277-8384.

Americas Society is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.

Americas Society Visual Arts program boasts the longest-standing private space in the U.S. dedicated to exhibiting and promoting art from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada; it has achieved a unique and renowned leadership position in the field, producing both historical and contemporary exhibitions.