León Ferrari (September 3, 1920 – July 25, 2013) was a contemporary
conceptual artist known for his protest art.
Ferrari was born in
Buenos Aires to Susana Celia del Pardo and Augusto
César Ferrari; his father was a well-known painter from San
Possidonio, Italy. The younger Ferrari went on to employ methods such
as collage, photocopying and sculpture in wood, plaster or ceramics.
He often used text, particularly newspaper clippings or poetry, in his
pieces. His art often dealt with the subject of power and religion;
images or statues of the saints, the
Virgin Mary or
Jesus may be found
in cages, sinks, meat blenders or frying pans. He has also dealt with
issues of United States foreign policy; in his best-known work, La
civilización occidental y cristiana ("Western-Christian
Civilization", 1965), Christ appears crucified on a fighter plane, as
a symbolic protest against the
Vietnam War ().
Ferrari also wrote many articles for left-leaning newspaper Página
12. His work and his politics brought him much controversy and
notoriety. He was forced into exile in São Paulo,
Brazil from 1976 to
1991 following threats by the military dictatorship, which
"disappeared" his son Ariel in 1977. He returned to
His work was again the subject of controversy when in 2004, a
retrospective of his works at the
Palais de Glace
Palais de Glace exhibition hall in
Recoleta, Buenos Aires, was forced to close following intervention by
Pope Francis (then Archbishop of Buenos Aires) and a subsequent court
order. Protests and government action allowed the exhibition to
In 2009 the Museum of Modern Art in
New York City
New York City featured his work in
a major exhibition with artist
Mira Schendel called Tangled
Alphabets. His work was also exhibited at the Rencontres d'Arles
Festival, in Arles, France.
He earned among many other awards and recognitions the São Paulo
Association of Art Critics Award for Best Art Exhibition of 1983, a
Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995, the Leone D'Oro at the Venice Biennale
in 2007, and in 2012
Konex Foundation in
Argentina granted him the
Konex Award for Visual Arts as the most important artist in
the last decade in his country.
Ferrari died on July 25, 2013 at the age of 92; he was buried at La
^ a b "León Ferrari, el artista argentino que enojó al papa
Francisco". BBC News. 25 July 2013.
^ Tangled Alphabets:
León Ferrari and
Mira Schendel at MoMA
^ "Argentine artist
León Ferrari dies".
Buenos Aires Herald. 25 July
ISNI: 0000 0000 7827 2402
BNF: cb16163753n (data)
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