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Marta Minujin to Receive Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award

Credit: Courtesy Americas Society (Photo: Beatriz Meseguer).

March 26, 2018

New York, March 14, 2018—On Thursday, March 22, Americas Society will honor Argentine contemporary artist Marta Minujín for her accomplishments in an artistic career spanning nearly half a century. Minujín will receive the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award at a presentation ceremony to take place at the Society’s landmark building in New York in front of an audience of over 100 guests from the culture, business, and political spheres. The evening will feature a conversation between Minujín and recognized Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera.

“Marta Minujín is an iconic figure and a major force in the Latin American and global art scene,” says Americas Society and Council of the Americas President and CEO Susan Segal. “We are proud to honor her with the third Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award and celebrate her career, which is as relevant today as it was when we presented her Minucode project in New York, precisely 50 years ago.”

Commissioned by the Center for Inter-American Relations—now Americas Society—in 1968, Marta Minujín’s Minucode broke new ground exploring the social codes of four groups of leading figures in the arts, business, fashion, and politics in New York through a series of cocktail parties/happenings recorded in films. Organized by Americas Society Visual Arts Director and Chief Curator Gabriela Rangel and José Luis Blondet, the exhibition MINUCODEs revisited the project in 2010, shedding light on the original mythical event through recovered footage and documents. Learn more about MINUCODEs.

“Marta Minujín is one of the few artists who never stopped being radical: From the social environments of the 1960s in which she merged Pop art with Arte de los Medios, French Structuralism, and Marshal MacLuhan’s theories, to monumental events such as the Parthenon of forbidden books recently restaged at documenta 14,” says Gabriela Rangel. “Her work deals with art as a space of exploration without limits.”

In 2017, The Parthenon of Books was exhibited at documenta 14, the fourteenth edition of the prominent contemporary art exhibition taking place in Kassel, Germany every five years. The work, composed of as many as 100,000 banned books from all over the world, was erected as a symbol of opposition to the banning of writings and the persecution of their authors.

“Marta Minujín was ahead of her time,” says Tania Bruguera. “Very early on she understood what we are just trying to catch up with today.”

Watch Gabriela Rangel and other important curators comment on the legacy of Marta Minujín. 

Born in Buenos Aires, Minujín had her first solo show at the age of 18. In 1960 she traveled to Paris on a French National Foundation for the Arts grant, where she conducted her seminal action La Destrucción (The Destruction) and met artists such as Arman, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Christo, and Jean-Jacques Lebel, who helped introduce happenings to France. In 1964 she won the Torcuato Di Tella Institute’s first prize with Revuélquese y Viva (Roll Around and Live), an inhabitable construction covered by different-colored mattresses. With a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (1966), Minujín settled in New York, where she started a series of works clearly influenced by McLuhan’s theories and conceived of Minucode, the project which was revisited in a 2010 exhibition of the same name curated by Gabriela Rangel at the Americas Society. Minujín’s most enduring interventions include Obelisco de Pan Dulce (Obelisk in Sweet Bread), 1979; El Pago de la Deuda Externa Argentina a Andy Warhol con Maíz, “El Oro latinoamericano” (Payment of the Argentine Foreign Debt to Andy Warhol with Corn, “The Latin American Gold”), 1985; and Ágora de la Paz (Agora of Peace), 2013. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires; Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires; and the São Paulo Biennial. Minujín maintains a varied and prolific practice of sculpture, happenings, and monumental installations in Argentina and beyond.  She has influenced generations of artists and is now recognized as one of the most iconic living artists from Latin America.

Proceeds from the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award dinner and ceremony will go toward fulfilling Americas Society’s mission to promote the visual arts and music of the Americas to a diverse audience in the United States. Previous recipients of the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award include Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco and Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

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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.