ROTHFUSS Rhod

Rhod Rothfuss received his education in Montevideo at the end of the 30s and the beginning of the 40s, first at the Círculo de Bellas Artes and later at the Academia de Bellas Artes. In the mid-40s he developed a style that, although compatible with Cubism, constituted one of the first South American examples of the use of the “irregular frame”. Rothfuss was the first theoretician of the “irregular frame”. In 1944 he joined the group that published the magazine Arturo which promoted abstract arts and included Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice, Tomas Maldonado, Lidy Prati and Edgar Bailey. Violently combative in its eagerness for breaking up with the previous forms of figurative art and keeping up with the international vanguard, Arturo rose as the original landmark of abstract geometric and constructivist art from the Rio de la Plata area. In the only issue ever published, Rothfuss questioned, in his famous essay, the use of the “regular frame” in conventional painting, and proposed in its place the use of the “irregular frame,” which he considered indispensable in order to be auto-referential because it suppressed the “background” and it was structured according to the own composition. His proposal was adopted and practiced by several of his colleagues even after they followed different movements of abstract-geometric and constructive art on both sides of the Rio de la Plata.

In 1945 Rothfuss participated in the original exhibitions of the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención(1945), and, in 1946, he created the Madí movement with Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice and Martin Blaszko. This movement intended to resolve concrete art’s lack of universality which, according to them prevented the success attained by movements such as Surrealism. The goal of the Madí movement was to invent and create eternal objects with absolute value. Rothfuss participated in the first three exhibitions of Madí art that were presented in Buenos Aires in 1946 (Galería Van Riel, Escuela Libre de Arte Altamira and Bohemien Club). In 1947 the group was dissolved due to a dispute between Arden Quin and Kosice. Rothfuss chose to join Kosice in promoting the movement’s philosophy in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Rothfuss continued to experiment with paintings irregularly framed and created abstract sculptures with movable parts. He participated in the most important collective exhibitions that promoted Madí art and Río de La Plata abstraction, including, among others, Primera exposición madista internacional (Ateneo de Montevideo, 1947), I salon des Réalités Nouvelles (Musée d’Art Moderne Ville Paris, Paris, 1948) and the two editions of Salón de Nuevas Realidades (Galería Van Riel, Buenos Aires, 1948 and 1949).

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Rhod ROTHFUSS

Pintura Madi, 1949

Enamel on wood
38 9/16 x 27 15/16 in. (98 x 71 cm.)

Arturo- Magazine published in 1944 by Tomás Maldonado, Édgar Bayley, Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice, Rhod Rothfuss and Lidy Prati. Aggressively spirited in its desire to break up with the various trends of figurative art and to catch up with the times and with the international avant-garde, Arturo emerged as the foundational milestone of Argentina’s abstract-geometric and constructivist art. “Invention” and “irregular framework” stood out among the concepts that were featured in the magazine, and they exerted a substantial influence on the aesthetics and ideas of the groups that were to emerge as its successors, the Association of Concrete Art-Invention and Madí, since Arturo did not go beyond the first issue.

Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención- One of the spin-offs of the group that published the magazine Arturo, along with the Madí movement. The artists that rallied around this magazine had already shown their work under that name in 1945. However, the Association was only officially launched in 1946, with an exhibition at the Salón Peuser (Peuser Hall, Buenos Aires). With Tomás Maldonado as its main leader, supported among others by Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati, Raúl Lozza, Enio Iommi, Manuel Espinoza and Juan Melé, the Association advocated art that was in line with scientific and technological progress and which prevailed over reality not by copying it but by inventing new objects instead. It restricted its scope strictly to the visual arts, design and architecture, in opposition to the multidisciplinary nature of the Madí movement.

Madí– One of the spin-offs of the group that published the magazine Arturo, along with the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención. The movement was founded among others by Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice, Rhod Rothfuss and Martín Blaszko, with an exhibition at the Van Riel Gallery (Buenos Aires) and with the launch of the Madí Manifesto (1946). They intended to overcome the lack of universality in concrete art by creating eternal objects with an absolute value, not just through the visual arts but also through music, dance and other art forms. A dispute among its leaders triggered a rift within the movement: Arden Quin went on to pursue further the spread of Madí art from Paris, while Kosice did the same around the Río de la Plata and published the magazine Arte Madí Universal (Universal Madí Art). Artists such as Antonio Llorens and Volf Roitman were also involved in the movement.