Marta Minujín

Marta Minujín (Buenos Aires, 1943). One of Argentina’s most prominent contemporary artists, Marta Minujín is best known for producing conceptual and participatory events, performance art, soft sculpture, and video. She studied fine art in Buenos Aires, at the Escuela de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano and art education at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes. Beginning her career in Paris, Minujín later moved to New York, where she befriended Andy Warhol, whose influence can be seen in her works that satirize consumer culture.

Many of the artist’s actions have employed surprise, provocation, and even violence; some early works saw her destroy all her existing sculptures (The Destruction [La Destrucción, 1963]), stage temporary interventions with living animals (The Bump [El Batacazo, 1964]), and subject unwitting viewers to extreme conditions (La Menesunda, 1965). In Paris she began a series of soft sculptures made from modified mattresses stitched together and painted in bold colors. As its title suggests, mattresses also feature in Minujín’s Colchones series (1963). One of her best-known works from those years, Minuphone (1967), invited viewers to enter a telephone booth, dial a number, and watch as sounds and colors projected from the glass panels, while a television screen on the floor displayed the caller’s face. Also notable from the period is Simultaneity and Simultaneity (Simultaneidad en Simultaneidad, 1966), Minujín’s contribution to the Three Country Happening (1966), a collaboration between the artist in Buenos Aires, Allan Kaprow in New York, and Wolf Vostell in Berlin that featured simultaneous events in all three cities. Building on earlier sculptures such as Obelisk in Sweet Bread (Obelisco de pan dulce, 1979) that model national monuments in ephemeral materials, Minujín’s later projects have included colossal public sculptures. In 1983, following the return of democracy to Argentina, Minujín created a monument to freedom of expression, The Parthenon of Books (1983), in which a structure built of newly unbanned books was erected in the middle of a Buenos Aires thoroughfare; after it was dismantled, the books were distributed to the public.

Her works are found in both Argentine and international collections, among them: the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Guggenheim Museum (New York), Tate Modern (London), the Art Museum of the Americas (Washington D.C.), the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Olympic Park (Seoul), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Buenos Aires), Malba-Fundación Costantini (Buenos Aires), as well as in major private collections. Over the last decades she has had numerous solo exhibitions and retrospectives; outstanding among them, Marta Minujín. Obras 1959-1989 (Malba, 2010), La Menesunda por Marta Minujín [MM's "Mayhem"] (Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aire, 2015-2016) and Menesunda Reloaded (The New Museum, 2019). She has taken part in group shows at the Guggenheim Museum (New York), Place du Palais Royal (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and Fundación PROA (Buenos Aires), among other prestigious art institutions. In 2016 she was awarded the Premio Velázquez a las Artes Plásticas (Madrid). In 2017, at Documenta 14, in Kassel, she presented the work Pago de la deuda griega con olivas a Angela Merkel [Payment of Greece's Debt in Olives to Angela Merkel] (Athens) and El Partenón de libros prohibidos [Parthenon of Banned Books]. In early 2018 she was awarded the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award in New York and in 2019 she was awarded the Premio Nacional a la Trayectoria Artística by the Salón Nacional de Arte Visuales in Argentina. She currently lives and works in Buenos Aires.