GEGO (Gertrud Goldschmidt). Hamburg 1912- Caracas 1994
Gego was born in the German city of Hamburg in August 1912. She graduated as an engineer with a specialty in architecture from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, in 1938. A year later she emigrated to Venezuela and in 1952 became a Venezuelan citizen.
In 1940 she met the German businessman Ernst Gunz whom she later married. With his support she created the Gunz workshop, dedicated to the design and construction of furniture and lamps. As a parallel activity she worked on several projects for architects.
In 1948 she designed and built two houses in Los Chorros: Quinta El Urape and Quinta Tulipán. She lived in El Urape for three years.
The couple separated in 1952.
Between 1953 and 1955 she lived in the village of Tarma, on the central coast of Venezuela, with Gerd Leufert who became her life-long companion and fundamental support for the development of her artistic work, which at the time was of landscapes, figurative and expressionistic.
In 1956 they returned to Caracas where Gego started on three-dimensional work thanks to the encouragement of Alejandro Otero and Jesús Soto. At this time she also took up teaching, an activity she kept up between 1958 and 1977 at several Venezuelan educational institutions, such as:
· School of Fine Arts Cristóbal Rojas (1958 – 1959)
· School of Architecture, Universidad Central de Venezuela (1960 – 1962)
· Design Institute, Fundación Neumann – INCE (1964 – 1977), of which she was a founding member.
In 1959 Gego accompanied Gerd Leufert during his studies at Iowa State University. There the artist worked in the university workshops and the Lasansky workshop.
Later, in 1960, she studied and worked at the Threitel-Gratz Co. workshop in New York where she created engravings and sculptures. That same year, in Caracas, Gego, together with other artists, created the Taller de Grabado (engraving workshop) known as TAGA.
In 1963 Gego attended specialization courses in pedagogical systems at Berkeley University in California with a scholarship from the Consejo de Desarrollo Científico y Humanístico (CDCH) of Universidad Central de Venezuela. That same year she attended the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles and created many engravings in the workshops of the Pratt Graphic Art Institute in New York.
Between 1966 and 1967 she again studied and worked at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles.
As of 1967 the artist devoted her time to teaching and to developing her fine art work in Caracas.
THE ARTIST´S WORK
Although varied and changing, Gego’s oeuvre remains whole and interrelated by the notions about space the artist tackles. Her watercolors, drawings, engravings, paper weavings and sculptures are proof of a constant creative and experimental process. Throughout her work one can perceive the enormous power of the line as a generating element.
Between 1957 and 1969 Gego produced her work based mainly on equidistant strokes, a period which Iris Peruga, curator of the exhibition Gego 1955-1990 held at Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas in 2000-2001, called Parallel Lines.
Drawings, engravings and sculptures show her interest in space, transparency and structure, an element that also pervades her work of architectural intervention.
As of 1969 Gego divests herself of rigid materials for the construction of her three-dimensional work. She starts to make drawings with crossing lines that form flat and modulated nets. From then on she shapes different spaces according to the association and the links between the nets, creating a universe of connections. Proof of this are her Reticuláreas (Networks), Troncos (Trunks) and Esferas (Spheres) which characterize this phase of her work and for which she is best known. This period prepares the way for a freer transit in her artistic work, when in 1976 she abandons every idea of pre-conceived composition with the so-called Dibujos Sin Papel (Drawings without paper) and, later on, with her Bichitos (Little Beasts), for which she uses scrap materials in apparently arbitrary compositions (Peruga, 2001).
Between the years 1988 and 1991 she develops the last phase of her work with her Tejeduras (Weavings), small compositions made with interwoven strips of paper, in which she synthesizes her encounters with space.
In Caracas GEGO developed several large format works which are harmoniously integrated into architectural space.
She died in Caracas on September 17, 1994.
GEGO’s work received multiple awards, among which the following stand out
· First prize in Drawing, IV National Drawing and Engraving Exhibition, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas. 1962.
· First prize in Sculpture, XII Salón D’Empaire of painting and sculpture, Maracaibo. 1967.
· Acquisition Prize, XXVIII Salón Oficial Anual de Arte Venezolano, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. 1967.
· National Prize in Drawing, XXIX Salón Oficial Anual de Arte, Dibujo y Grabado. Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. 1968.
· Employment opportunity prize, Salón Las Artes Plásticas en Venezuela, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. April 1972.
· Acquisition Prize. Salón Las Artes Plásticas en Venezuela, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. 1976.
· Orden Andrés Bello decoration. Venezuela. 1976.
· National Prize of Fine Arts. Salón Las Artes Plásticas en Venezuela, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. 1979.
Her work is represented in museums, institutions and public and private collections, in and outside Venezuela, such as:
· Museo de Bellas Artes, MBA, Caracas, Venezuela.
· Galería de Arte Nacional, GAN, Caracas, Venezuela.
· Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, MAC, Caracas, Venezuela.
· Museo de Barquisimeto, Lara, Venezuela.
· Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Francisco Narváez, Nueva Esparta, Venezuela.
· Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, MALBA, Argentina.
· The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA. New York, USA.
· The Museum of Fine Arts, MFAH, Houston, Texas, USA.
· Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. Austin, Texas, USA.
· University of New Mexico Art Museum.
· Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, USA.
· Y. Public Library, New York, USA.
· Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona, MACBA, Barcelona, Spain.
· Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, USA
· Tate Modern, London, UK.
· Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.
· Fundación Polar, Caracas, Venezuela.
· Colección Banco Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela.
· Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad Central de Venezuela.
· Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas IVIC, Caracas.
· Banco Industrial de Venezuela.
· Instituto Nacional de Capacitación y Educación INCE.
· Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.
· FP Allegro.
· Colección Oberto.
· Ella Fontanals – Cisneros CIFO. Miami, USA
· Estrellita Brodsky Collection.
· Pablo and Tinta Henning Collection. Houston, USA
· Agnes Gund Collection.
· Roberto Storr Collection.
· Violy MC Causland Collection.
· Latin Collector Center.
· Daros Latinoamérica.
· Diane and Bruce Halle Collection.
· Clarissa Brofmann Collection.
· DOP Collection.
· Sicardi Collection. Houston. USA
· Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. Germany
· Henry Moore Institute. Leeds. UK
· Hamburger Kunsthalle. Germany
· Fundación Gego Custody.
· Heirs’ collections.