Otero, Alejandro (1921–1990)

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Otero, Alejandro (1921–1990)

Alejandro Otero (b. 7 March 1921; d. 13 August 1990), Venezuelan artist. Born in El Manteco, Otero was the son of a rubber worker who died soon after the artist's birth. He grew up in the small provincial town of Upata and then in Ciudad Bolívar. Although he began to study agriculture, he also took courses in art at the Cristóbal Rojas School of Fine and Applied Arts, in Caracas, where he taught painting and stained glass from 1943–1945. In 1945, on a government fellowship, he traveled to Paris, where he studied cubism and the Dutch neoplasticist artists. He completed a series of forty still lifes entitled Las Cafeteras, and exhibited them at the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. (1948) and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas (1949), where they produced a critical uproar among the conservative Venezuelan art world. In 1950 Otero along with other Venezuelan artists in Paris formed the group Los Disidentes, which published five issues of an art review promoting geometrical abstraction as the way to reach a universal art.

In 1952 he returned to Caracas, where he taught at the School of Fine and Applied Arts (1954–1959), and joined with the artists Calder, Vasarely, Arp, Léger, and Soto in designing the University City. In 1959 and 1975 he participated in the Venezuelan group show at the São Paulo Bienal. In 1960 he returned to Paris, where he produced a series of assemblages and collages. Back in Caracas he became vice president of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Bellas Artes (1964). In 1966 he began his famous series Coloritmo, an experiment with a striped pattern of industrial color on rectangular pieces of wood to produce a moving visual interaction of vertical lines of color. That year, and again in 1982, he represented Venezuela at the Venice Biennale.

In the mid-1960s, Otero began work on large-scale outdoor kinetic sculptures like Delta solar (Washington, D.C.), Ala Solar (Bogotá), and Terra solar (Guri Dam, Venezuela). In 1971 he received a Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship to research sculptural ideas at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He participated in international group shows such as the Hayward Gallery's Art in Latin America (London, 1989) as well as many solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art (1985) and the National Gallery of Art (1990) in Caracas.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Bélgica Rodríguez, La pintura abstracta en Venezuela, 1945–1965 (1980).

Consejo Nacional De La Cultura (conac), Alejandro Otero, representación venezolana (1991), introduction by Elena Ramos.

Additional Bibliography

Calzadilla, Juan. "Alejandro Otero y la enseñanza del arte." Revista Nacional de Cultura (Venezuela) 59: 306-307 (July-Dec 1997): 209-217.

Otero, Alejandro. He vivido por los ojos: Correspondencia Alejandro Otero Alfredo Boulton 1946–1974. Caracas: Museo Alejandro Otero, 2001.

                                     BÉlgica RodrÍguez