BOTO Martha

Martha BOTO

Relief Optique, 1962

Plexiglass and wood
17 11/16 x 17 11/16 in. (45 x 45 cm.)

Martha Boto attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Crcova (Buenos Aires), graduating in 1950. Her early paintings, which she showed on two occasions at the Galeria Van Riel (Buenos Aires, 1952 and 1953), were figurative. In 1954, she began to experiment with geometric abstraction and was inspired to join, two years later, the Grupo Arte Nuevo, along with Gregorio Vardnega (whom she married the following year), Eduardo Jonquires, Luis Tomasello and Carmelo Arden Quin. In 1957, she joined the group Artistas No Figurativos Argentinos (ANFA).

Interested in the transformation that movement and materials produced on light, Boto made moving hanging works in Plexiglas, aluminum, and stainless steel, making use of reflecting surfaces and transparent elements. With the same materials, she also made static assemblages that distorted and reflected light. In 1959, she moved to Paris with Vardnega, and there, in 1961 and 1962, she participated in the exhibition Art abstrait constructif international organized by the Galerie Denise Ren. Towards the 60s, she contributed to diverse collective exhibitions of the Nouvelle Tendance movement and presented her first solo exhibition, in Paris, at the Maison des Beaux-Arts (1964). By then she was using electrical motors, projectors, and curved mirrors to build kinetic boxes of distorted reflections creating kaleidoscopic effects. Among them were the series Dplacements optiques.

Plexiglas discs of colors, which Boto used in previous years’ kinetic boxes, became, by 1968, a frequent resource to build movable structures (motorized or not) inside transparent Plexiglas columns. Later these structures evolved as independent entities freed of the Plexiglas cover, and the discs in them were replaced by reflecting elements, with colored or non-colored spheres or hoops. In 1969, the Galerie Denise Ren organized an important retrospective of her work.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Boto left behind her movable structures, returned to painting, and began creating more traditional sculptures. With few exceptions, circular forms and wave-like rhythms predominated in her work. Focussed on optical and chromatic phenomena, her paintings evolved from the superposition of concentric circles of the series Cosmos, dating from the 70s, to compositions with floating circles. Among them are the lyrical series Les cyclistes and Communications from the 90s. Her sculptures involved wave-like forms that were more organic than geometric, but they were always suggestively kinetic, as in the series cumes.