Pettoruti, Emilio (1892–1971)

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Pettoruti, Emilio (1892–1971)

Emilio Pettoruti (b. 1 October 1892; d. 16 October 1971), Argentine painter, pioneer of abstract art in South America, who developed a style incorporating synthetic cubism, futurism and early Renaissance painting. Born in La Plata, Pettoruti was self-taught. In 1913 he went to study in Florence, Italy. Influenced by the futurists and kinetic figuration, Pettoruti painted symbolic abstractions of wind and light (e.g., Lights in the Landscape, 1915). From his study of quattrocento painting, he derived a halftone palette, painting quasi-geometrical portraits and landscapes (e.g., Woman in the Café, Sunshine and Shade, both 1917). He met Juan Gris in Paris in 1923 and returned to Argentina the following year. He was director of the Museum of Fine Arts, La Plata, from 1930 to 1947. In 1941 he exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art. His conception of art polarized traditionalists and avant-gardists. Influenced by cubism, he used dissected forms but did not employ simultaneous presentation of different profiles. In 1953 he moved to Paris, where he lived until his death.

After 1950 Pettoruti returned to pure, dynamic abstractions with a metaphysical bent (e.g., Quietness of the Beyond, 1957). Classified by some as an academic cubist, he was considered a classical modernist by others.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century.


Gilbert Chase, Contemporary Art in Latin America (1970), pp. 128-133.

Angel Osvaldo Nessi and Jorge Romero Brest, Pettoruti (1987).

Nelly Perazzo, "Constructivism and Geometric Abstraction," in The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920–1970, by Luis R. Cancel et al. (1988), pp. 118-119.

Additional Bibliography

Fèvre, Fermín. Emilio Pettoruti. Buenos Aires: Editorial El Ateneo, 2000.

Sullivan, Edward J., and Nelly Perazzo. Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971). Buenos Aires: Asociación Amigos del Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2005.

                                        Marta Garsd