Edgar Negret

(1920 – 2012)




Edgar Negret was born in Popayán, Colombia in 1920. In 1945, Negret went to Bogotá where he met Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, and Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar, all of whom would go on to be the first generation of modern artists in Colombia. In 1949, Negret lived in New York City, Paris, and then Spain.  He remained away from his native country from 1949 to 1963. It is during this period that his art anchored itself in its usual mediums and constructive simplicity. He started exploring metal in 1949 during his studies at the Sculpture Center in New York, and in 1957 he started his series Aparatos Mágicos, (Magic Machines), Vigilantes and Eclipses. 


Many new influences came into play during the making of these series: he met Alberto Giacometti, Jean Tinguely, Wifredo Lam, Jesús Rafael Soto, and Alejandro Otero, among others. Back in New York, he went on to become a part of the city’s most successful art circles alongside artists such as Louise Nevelson, Ellsworth Kelly, and Jack Youngerman. This period also enabled him to be the object of several solo and group shows in galleries in Paris and New York and to be exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (1954- 55) and the Venice Biennale. 


In 1963, Negret returned to Colombia and started living in Bogotá. His series during this time include Navegantes, Edificios, Puentes, Templos, Escaleras, Andes, Arboles, Bosques and Metamorfosis. In 1981, the Casa Museo Negret was created in homage and conservation to his work, and this Institution still administers his large Estate.


Edgar Negret’s works are prime examples of abstract modern art. Unlike many other Latin American Artists from this time, he was never defined by his cultural identity. Instead he remained ever malleable and sensible to his changing environments.  His work, in its own abstract language, is a direct reference to his surroundings.  For example, Pueblo, Navajo, and Inca iconography and philosophy influenced Negret.   Much of his works can thus be understood through his biography.

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