Argentine artist León Ferrari, who has won national as well as international acclaim for his work over the last six decades, has died today at the age of 92.
Born in Buenos Aires on 3rd of September 1920, Ferrari’s art dealt with controversial issues such as war, religion, power, and sex.
With as many fans as critics, his work was exhibited in some of the most prestigious museums in the world such as the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, Queen Sofia’s Arts Centre in Madrid and in the Pinacoteca of São Paulo.
He began his creative work in the 1950s, starting in Italy where he made ceramic sculptures. He then elaborated on these with wood and wire fence on his return to Argentina in 1955.
One of his most impacting works was made in 1965 for the Premio Di Tella: ‘La civilizacion Occidental y Cristiana‘ (‘Western Christian civilisation’). This sculpture showed Christ on the cross on a US fighter plane, which in its moment was a symbolic protest against the war in Vietnam.
After the military coup d’état in Argentina in 1976, he was forced to seek exile in Brazil where he learned that his son Ariel, who had decided to stay in Argentina, had disappeared. It is in Brazil that he started working with videotext, heliography, and musical instruments.
In 1983, he re-launched himself in political-religious themes with collages and illustrations of the Bible in which he incorporated catholic iconography, oriental erotica, and contemporary images.
In 2004 the Centro Cultural Recoleta exhibited a retrospective of his works over the last 50 years. The exhibition was closed down due to ultra religious groups then reopened again by the government in one of the most intense debates of Argentine art in the last few years. Pope Francis, then Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, lamented Ferrari’s “blasphemy, that’s shameful to our city,” to which Ferrari replied: “I lament that the religion Bergoglio practises punishes those who think differently.”
In 2007, Ferrari won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale, and last year the Konex Foundation granted him the ‘Diamond Konex Award for Visual Arts’ as the most important artist of the last decade in the country.
His last exhibition was in MALBA last year where he presented a selection of 70 of his pieces of the last three decades from the ‘Brailles‘ and ‘Relecturas de la Biblia‘ series.