The Power of Images
The Circle Walked Casually in Buenos Aires

Works from the Deutsche Bank Collection had never been seen this way before: “The Circle Walked Casually” suspended around 130 works on paper in space in the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle. Now the show curated by Victoria Noorthoorn is being presented in the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, where the drawings and watercolors from the bank’s art collection enter into dialog with selected works from the museum in the Argentinian capital.
It’s almost a magical experience: You enter a gleaming white room whose boundaries seem to dissolve. The works float in it. In an idiosyncratic rhythm consisting of lines, colors, and shapes, they follow a serpentine line. Together with the Brazilian stage designer Daniela Thomas and the architect Felipe Tassara, the Argentinian curator Victoria Noorthoorn conceptualized an exhibition architecture that enables viewers to experience the two main features of drawing – space and line – in an entirely new way.

“Once upon a time there was an endless horizontal line in space…” Thus begins the fantastic short story Genealogy by the Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández (1902–1964) that inspired Noorthoorn entitled the show The Circle Walked Casually. In the story, a circle and a triangle fall in love and travel along a horizontal line. The line as a symbol of drawing and the idea of an imaginary journey characterize the exhibition concept of the Argentinian curator. In The Circle Walked Casually, the path leads through a century of art history. From Otto Dix, to Joseph Beuys, to Kara Walker and Kemang Wa Lehulere, she illustrates artistic ideas and formal developments extending Modernism to the 21st century.

Following its premiere at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, the show is now on view in Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (MAMBA) under the title El círculo caminaba tranquilo. For this venue Noorthoorn, who was appointed director of the museum in 2013, extended the concept of the show. The works from the Deutsche Bank Collection enter into dialog with drawings and prints from MAMBA’s holdings. With the addition of such different artists as Salvador Dalí, León Ferrari, and Guillermo Kuitca, entirely new correspondences develop between the exhibits.

Drawing, the exhibition shows very clearly, expresses imagination, thought, utopias, and existential experiences. At the beginning of the show is the introverted, lonely human figure. Ernst Barlach’s drawing Betrunkene Bettlerin (Drunken beggar) (1906) meets Lucien Freud’s Woman with Arm Tattoo (1996). The etching shows the artist’s fascination for meat, skin, and human vulnerability. Life has inscribed itself in this woman’s body like the tattoo in her forearm. A 1981 nude study of the Argentinian Héctor Giuffres from the collection of MAMBA exudes a melancholy similar to that of Käthe Kollwitz’ poignant sketch Frau auf einer Bank sitzend (Woman sitting on a park bench) from 1905. There are also surprising links between Alberto Greco and Raymond Pettibon: the visual language of the Argentinian artist, who died in 1965, and that of the American artist influenced by comic culture, are similarly expressive in a reduced way. Both work with writing and they share a bleak worldview.  

A true discovery is the drawings of Eugenia Crenovich (1905 - 1990). Under the alias Yente, she was one of the most important pioneers of abstract art in South America. In MAMBA, her subtle geometric compositions can stand beside classics such as Mondrian and Josef Albers without clashing with them.

El círculo caminaba tranquilo represents a liberation of static exhibition formats and art-historical pigeonholing. Noorthoorn trusts the power of the images alone. She dispenses with chronology and labeling and lets the works speak directly to the viewer. Last but not least, her show celebrates the medium of drawing in an exhibition business that is primarily interested in painting.  

El círculo caminaba tranquilo
La Colección Deutsche Bank en diálogo con obras del Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires

6/29, 2014 – 1/18, 2015
Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires