The Illusive Eye

On view February 3, 2016 to May 21, 2016

El Museo del Barrio is pleased to present The Illusive Eye, an international survey on Kinetic and Op art. The exhibition offers a broad intellectual context for Op art and geometric abstraction, one that goes against the grain of formalist art history. The selection provides a special focus on artwork from the Americas and features major artists from eighteen countries in Latin America and beyond.

The Illusive Eye is about illusions—those we see and feel when we look at Op and kinetic art and those experienced by the curators and art historians of these movements,” said Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Executive Director, El Museo and exhibition curator. “The perceptual play of things seen and unseen provides us with a model for understanding the relative invisibility of Latin American artists in past surveys of Op art.”

The Illusive Eye puts forth a reading of Op art and geometric abstraction that is notably different from that of prior exhibitions, which focused on the psychology and physiology of perception. El Museo’s exhibition traces the concepts and values of optical art to its esoteric origins in Pythagorean (Egyptian) and Theosophical (Eastern) mysticism. The Illusive Eye places Op art in a truly international context, beyond that of the narrow European model of modernism as perpetuated by Western museums.

The Illusive Eye embarks on three objectives:

First, we revisit and celebrate the innovations of the MoMA exhibition and flesh it out with the Latin American dimension that it lacked.

Second, we put forth a notably different reading of Op and Kinetic art—offering a discursive and critical response to the traditional studies dwelling on the physiology and psychology of vision.

Third, we propose a connection between the naturalizing (responsive) theories of optical art and the naturalized absence of Latin American artists from The Responsive Eye and similar curatorial projects. The few Latin Americans represented in the MoMA show each lived in Europe at the time of the exhibition. We therefore propose a link between the lessons in the phenomenology of illusions in Op art and the parallel illusions of curatorial vision—in which focus on one object requires the invisibility of others.

Exhibition curator: Jorge Daniel Veneciano, Ph.D., Executive Director, El Museo del Barrio; author of The Geometric Unconscious: A Century of Abstraction (University of Nebraska Press, 2012).


Albers, Josef | Germany
Anuskiewicz, Richard | United States
Apollonio, Marina | Italy
Bechara, Tony | Puerto Rico
Biasi Alberto | Italy
Bill, Max | Switzerland
Boto, Martha | Argentina
Briel, Ernesto | Cuba
Carreño, Mario | Cuba
Clark, Lygia | Brazil
Contreras Brunet, Iván | Chile
Costigliolo, José Pedro | Uruguay
Cruz-Diez, Carlos | Venezuela
Darié, Sandú | Cuba (born in Romania)
Espinosa, Manuel | Argentina
Fangor, Wojciech | Poland
Fiaminghi, Hermelindo | Brazil
Freire, María | Uruguay

García Rossi, Horacio | Argentina
GEGO (Gertrud Goldschmidt) | Venezuela
Gómez, Norberto | Argentina
Herrera, Carmen | Cuba
Hewitt, Karen | United States
Kosice, Gyula | Argentina
Lamis, Leroy | United States
Lauand, Judith | Brazil
Le Parc, Julio | Argentina
Llorens, Antonio | Uruguay
Mac Entyre, Eduardo | Argentina
Mavignier, Almir | Brazil
Negret, Edgar | Colombia
Oiticica, Hélio | Brazil
Otero, Alejandro | Venezuela
Palatnik, Abraham | Brazil
Pape, Lygia | Brazil

Pérez, Matilde | Chile
Rayo, Omar | Colombia
Riley, Bridget | England
Rodríguez, Freddy | Dominican Republic
Sacerdote, Ana | Argentina
Sánchez, Zilia | Cuba
Sanín, Fanny | Colombia
Soldevilla, Lolo | Cuba
Sosa, Antonieta | Venezuela (born in NY)
Soto, Jesús Rafael | Venezuela
Stella, Frank | United States
Tadasky (Tadasuke Kuwayama) | Japan
Tomasello, Luis | Argentina
Vardanega, Gregorio | Argentina
Vasarely, Victor | Hungary
Vidal, Miguel Ángel | Argentina
Wilding, Ludwig | Germany
Yvaral, Jean-Pierre, France


Visit our museum shop, La Tienda, for a wide selection of exhibition related merchandise, including an exciting collaboration with master artist Carlos Cruz-Diez (b. 1923, Caracas, Venezuela) who has created a limited edition poster specifically announcing the exhibition. Also in La Tienda view a partnership with renowned artist-jeweler, Chus Burés, who will be presenting limited edition pieces produced in collaboration with artists in the exhibition.

Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Patricia & Ramiro J. Ortíz, Lo-Mid Corporation, and Public Support from the New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Additional support has been provided by Michael J. García & Liana M. Davila, The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), the Embassy of Chile, and El Museo’s Collector’s Circle.