b. 1912, Hamburg
d. 1994, Caracas
Gertrude Goldschmidt, also known as “Gego,” was a modern Venezuelan artist and sculptor born in Germany in 1912. Gego's most popular works were produced in the 1960s and 1970s, during the height of popularity of Geometric Abstract Art and Kinetic Art. Although these two genres of art influenced her to some extent, Gego tried to develop her own style and break from the popular art of Venezuela. Her artwork is commonly exhibited with artists like Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica and Mira Schendel. Before she passed away in1994, she left a collection of writings describing her thoughts about art, which added to her legacy as a Latin American artist.
Gego arrived in Venezuela from Hamburg during an economic boom, and she was surrounded by a group of successful artists. Modernism was the artistic fad sweeping through Latin America, and artists in Venezuela participated enthusiastically. Modernism was a political tool as well. Latin American governments were trying to catch up to the advancements of the United States during the Post World War II era, and Venezuela thought that by encouraging the modern art movement, which incorporated ideas of the industry, science, and architecture, the country would be seen as progressive.
Gego made her first sculpture in 1957. She wanted to create a style of her own because she was able to use so many aspects of her life in her art—for example, her German heritage. Gego's series of artworks that would be titled "Drawings Without Paper" are reflections on her view of space. Gego considered space as its own form, or as if her work was occupying the artwork of the room itself. Since her work is made from nets and grid-like materials, negative space is everywhere, causing the negative as well as the positive space to be appreciated. However, it is the shadows created by her works that reveal the integral connection between the sculpture and the room it occupies. In fact, the way her sculptures exist in space changes every time they are installed because Gego had the power to re-create the image as she wanted.
Her series of “Reticuláreas” is undoubtedly her most popular group of artworks. Her first series was created in 1969. Pieces of aluminum and steel were joined together to create an interweaving of nets and webs that fills the entire room when exhibited. Since her death, the permanent collection of Reticuláreas is in the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas, Venezuela. Her children and grandchildren have taken the responsibility to preserve Gego's legacy, and they founded the Fundacion Gego to organize her artwork and to promote the awareness of their relative’s contribution to the art world.