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Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt

(1912-08-01)1 August 1912
Died17 September 1994(1994-09-17) (aged 82)
NationalityGerman and Venezuelan
EducationTechnische Hochschule of Stuttgart, Germany
Known forSculptor, Architect, Printmaker
Notable workReticulárea
MovementModern Art
AwardsPremio Nacional de Artes Plasticas

Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt (1 August 1912 – 17 September 1994), known as Gego, was a modern German-Venezuelan visual artist.[1] Gego is perhaps best known for her geometric and kinetic sculptures made in the 1960s and 1970s, which she described as "drawings without paper".[2]

Early life[edit]

Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt, who went by "Gego", was born on 1 August 1912 in Hamburg, Germany into a Jewish family.[citation needed] She was the sixth of seven children of Eduard Martin Goldschmidt and Elizabeth Hanne Adeline Dehn.[3] Although she was the niece of the medieval art historian Adolf Goldschmidt, who taught at the University of Berlin, she decided to attend the Technische Hochschule of Stuttgart[4] in 1932, where she was taught by the well-known German architect Paul Bonatz.[citation needed] In 1938, she earned a diploma in both architecture and engineering.[5]

Because her family was Jewish, life became very difficult once the Nazis gained power in 1934. Her German citizenship was nullified in 1935,[6] and she was forced to leave the country. She found work in 1939 in Venezuela as an architect [7] and gained Venezuelan citizenship in 1952.[citation needed] Her parents and siblings all managed to leave Germany by June 1940 mostly settling in England and California. Some close relatives chose to stay in Germany unaware they would soon be murdered.[8]

In 1987, Professor Frithjof Trapp of the University of Hamburg led an investigation called "Exile and Emigration of Hamburg Jews," which he hoped would explain the lives of these Jews. Gego was one person whom he hoped to investigate.[citation needed] After several letters to her home, she finally agreed to respond but the letter was never mailed and instead stayed in her collection of notes. In her testimony, "Reflection on my origins and encounters in life," Gego described how her family identified with German society. She described, in detail, her education history and her departure from Germany.[9]

Importance of education[edit]

After moving to Caracas, Venezuela, Gego taught at the College of Architecture and City Planning at the Central University of Venezuela between 1958 and 1967.[3] Additionally, between 1964 and 1977, she taught at the Neumann Institute of Design, an institution where many other well-known artists, such as Harry Abend, a fellow European-born artist, also taught. Gego taught "Bidimensional and Three-Dimensional Form" and "Spatial Solutions" and published two articles between 1971 and 1977.[5]

In 1948, Venezuelan president Rómulo Gallegos was overthrown by a military coup.[10] Gego knew that, after a time of crisis, students become the members of society that are the most influential. Included in her Sabiduras, a folder of her informal writings discovered upon her death, there is a letter addressed to her colleagues explaining the criteria that would be beneficial to the students of Venezuela.[citation needed] In it, she explains that only through experience can artists, and architects in particular, learn their medium: Images and theories about architecture would not further their artistic training. Her views were fueled by her belief that students were taught with too much emphasis on rationality and were becoming "ignorant of imagination."[9]



Arriving in Venezuela during an economic boom, Gego was surrounded by artists enjoying a great deal of success. 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[who?] thought by encouraging the modern art movement, which incorporated ideas of the industry, science, and architecture, the country would be seen as progressive.[11]

Gego made her first sculpture in 1957. She was aware of the modern movement when she came to Caracas, but she did not want to simply co-opt the ideas of Kinetic Art, Constructivism or Geometric Abstraction. Instead, Gego 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. In the end, she saw that these new projects labeled desarrollista (developmentalist movement) were pleasing the elite and members of government, but she wanted an art that would relate to the local community of Venezuela.[11]


From Kinetic Art, Gego incorporated motion as well as the importance of experimentation and the spectator. One of her earliest works, Esfera (Sphere) (1959), consists of welded brass and painted steel of different widths that are placed at different angles to one another in order to create overlapping lines and fields. When the viewer walks around the sphere, the visual relationship between the lines changes, creating a sense of motion. Esfera echoes the work done by famous Kinetic artists like Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesus Rafael Soto. It was not until the mid-1960s that Gego departed from the basic concept of Kinetic Art in response to her developing ideas about lines. For her, a line inhabited its own space, and as such, it was not a component in a larger work but instead it was a work in itself. Therefore, in her artworks, she did not use line to represent an image; line was the image.[12]

The strength or purpose of a line was enhanced by Gego's use of different materials, like steel, wire, lead, nylon and various metals. In addition to relating to her interest in architecture, these materials also contradicted the new modernist movement in Latin America. Gego not only used these materials to create lines in her massive sculptures but also in her series entitled Dibujos Sin Papel (Drawings without Paper). These small works were created from scraps of metal that were bent and weaved together in order to evoke movement, experimentation, and spontaneity.[11]

While in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, Gego composed a series of lithographs that were mostly untitled except for a ten-page book entitled, Lines in 1966. This book was produced in gray and red. Variations in the thickness, length, and direction of the lines demonstrate the fundamental instability of lines. By experimenting with line in a different medium, Gego emphasized that the notion of a "line" retains its strength and independence regardless of its specific location or form.[citation needed]


Gego's idea of a series of artworks that would be titled "Drawings Without Paper" reflected on her view of space. She considered space as its own form; as if her artwork was occupying the artwork of the room itself. Since her work is made from nets and grid-like materials, negative space is everywhere, creating an appreciation of both the negative as well as the positive space. But it is the shadows created by her works that reveal the integral connection between the sculpture and the room it occupies. In Gego's work, she was thus allowed to play with the idea of the stable and unstable elements of art:[12] The stable elements of art is the sculpture itself, while the unstable elements consist of the constantly changing shadows and the slight movement in her design due to the fragility of her materials. In fact, the way Gego's sculptures exist in space changes every time it was installed because she had the power to recreate the image as she wanted.

Tamarind Lithography Workshop[edit]

On the invitation of June Wayne, Gego briefly visited Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles (now Tamarind Institute) in 1963 and returned as an artist-fellow from November to December 1966, during which time she created thirty-one lithographs, including two books of them.[13]

Gego explained her interest in using non-traditional formats in her printmaking in a speech at Tamarind in 1966: "I think that series of sheets with a coherent meaning must be gathered in a way that they can be easily enjoyed so I make books."[14]

As in her three-dimensional installations, Gego used printmaking as a mode of linear experimentation. She used line, and its infinite variations, to explore negative space, or what she called, the "nothing between the lines." At a reception honoring her at Tamarind in 1966 she explained, "I discovered that sometimes the in-between lines is as important as the lines by [themselves]."[14]


Her series of Reticuláreas is undoubtedly her most popular and most talked about 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. Her use of repetition and layering in the massive structure causes the piece to seem endless. Since her death, the permanent collection of Reticuláreas is in the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas, Venezuela.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1940 Gego met Venezuelan urban planner Ernst Gunz at the architectural firm where she worked with other architects to design the Los Caobos housing estate for Luis Roche.[3] They married in October 1940 and opened a furniture studio called ‘Gunz’, where Gego designed lamps and wooden furniture. Together the couple had Tomás (b. 1942) and Barbara (b. 1944).[3] Gego closed Gunz in 1944 in order to spend more time with her children. By 1948 she returned to designing private homes, nightclubs, and restaurants.

In 1951 she separated from Gunz, and in 1952 met artist and graphic designer Gerd Leufert.[3] Gego and Leufert remained partnered for the rest of her life.[3] The romantic partnership coincides with the development of her artistic career: She begins exhibiting her watercolors, collages, and monotypes in 1954 and is experimenting with creating three-dimensional objects by 1956.[15]

Death and legacy[edit]

Gego died on 17 September 1994 in Caracas, Venezuela.[16] That same year, her family founded the Fundación Gego to preserve her artistic legacy; it organizes posthumous exhibitions of her artwork and promotes awareness of Gego's significance to the art world.[17] The Fundación Gego gave the permission to publish Gego's personal writings and testimonies in 2005.[18] These writings, now published, may influence other artists in her innovative and experimental mode of sculpture.[19]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions
  • 1958 - Gego: Sculptures and Gouaches, Liberia Cruz del Sur, Caracas, 9–24 May
  • 1964 - Lines and interlines: Engravings and Drawings by Gego, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 2–16 February
  • 1967 - Gego: Sculptures. 1957-1967, Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango, Bogotá, 8–30 June
  • 1968 - On Paper: Lithographs by Gego, Museo de Bellas Artes, November
  • 1969 - Reticulárea, Museo de Bellas Artes, June–July
  • 1970 - Gego Drawings, The Graphic Gallery, San Francisco, 1–17 May
  • 1971 - Gego: Sculpture and Drawing, Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 13 April – 1 May
  • 1972 - Structures Double Curves, Galeria Conkright, Caracas
  • 1973 - Recent Drawings, Galeria Conkright
  • 1975 - Gego: Drawings for Projects, Instituto de Diseno, Fundacion Neumann, Caracas, 6–20 May
  • 1977 - Gego, Museo de Artes Contemporaneo de Caracas Sofia Imber, September
  • 1980 - Variations on Reticuláreas, Sala Cadafe, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas Sofia Imber, May
  • 1981 - Reticulárea (permanent installation), Sala Gego, Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas
  • 1982 - Watercolors by Gego, Galería de Arte Nacional, 4 Jul – 8 Aug
  • 1984 - Gego: Drawings without Paper, Museo de Bellas Artes, June–August
  • 1988 - Gego: Recent Works, Galeria Sotavento, Caracas, March
  • 1994 - Gego: A Look at Her Work, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas Sofia Imber, November
  • 1996 - Gego: Drawings, Engravings, Weavings, Centro Cultural Consolidado, Caracas, September–November
  • 2000-01 - Gego: 1955-1990, Museo de Bellas Artes, October–March
  • 2002-03 - Questioning the Line: Gego, a Selection, 1955-1990, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston[20]
  • 2005 - Gego: Between Transparency and the Invisible, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 26 June – 25 September
  • 2007 - Gego: Between Transparency and the Invisible, The Drawing Center, New York, 21 April – 21 July
  • 2011 - Gego: Prints and Drawings 1963-1991, Frederico Seve Gallery, New York, 24 May – 18 August 2011
  • 2012 - Gego: Origin and Encounter, Mastering the Space Archived 19 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Americas Society, New York, 29 September – 8 December
  • 2014 - Gego: Line as Object, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 21 July- October 19[21]
  • 2017 - Between the Lines: Gego as Printmaker, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, 7 February – 6 August 2017
  • 2022 - Gego: Measuring Infinity, Museo Jumex, Mexico City, October 19, 2022 - February 5, 2023
  • 2023 - Gego: Measuring Infinity, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, March 31 - September 10, 2023
Group exhibitions
  • 1954: XV Salón Oficial Anual de Arte Venezolano, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas
  • 1955: Venezolanische Impressionen 1954, Galerie Wolfgang Gurlitt, Munich
  • 1959: Pintura y escultura de profesores de la Faculdad de Arquitectura, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas
  • 1960: Recent Sculpture, David Herbert Gallery, New York
  • 1960/1961: Section Eleven (New Names), Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
  • 1963: Pintura geométrica venezolana 1950–1960, Galería de Arte del INCIBA, Caracas
  • 1964: One Hundred Contemporary Prints – Pratt Graphic Art Center, Jewish Museum, New York
  • 1965: The Responsive Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 1966: Art of Latin America since Independence, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven
  • 1967: Recent Latin American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
  • 1968: New Dimension in Lithography. An Exhibition Recently Selected from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Fisher and Quinn Galleries, Southern California University
  • 1969: El arte cinético y sus orígenes, Ateneo de Caracas, Caracas
  • 1969/1970: Latin America. New Paintings and Sculpture. Juan Downey, Agustín Fernández, Gego, Gabriel Morera, Center for Inter-AmericanRelations Art Gallery, New York
  • 1971: Tamarind. A Renaissance of Lithography. A Loan Exhibition from the Tamarind Lithography, International Foundation, California
  • 1975: Relaciones y contrastes en la pintura venzolana, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Gego, Otero y Negret, Galería Adler Castillo, Caracas
  • 1976: Las artes plásticas en Venezuela, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas
  • 1978: Pequeña historia del dibujo en Venezuela, Estudio Actual, Caracas
  • 1982: Spielraum – Raumspiele, Alte Oper, Frankfurt am Main
  • 1986: Caracas urbana, Museo de Arte La Rinconada, Caracas
  • 1988–1990: The Latin Spirit. Art and Artists in the United States 1920–1970, The Bronx Museum of Art, New York
  • 1992: Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, Plaza de Armas, Sevilla
  • 1996/1997: Inside the Visible. An Elliptical Traverse of 20th Century Art (in, of, and from the Feminine), The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  • 1997–1999: Re-Aligning Vision. Alternative Currents in South American Drawing, The Neighborhood Museum, New York
  • 1999/2000: The Experimental Exercise of Freedom. Lygia Clark, Gego, Mathias Goeritz, Hélio Oiticica and Mira Schendel, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
  • 2000: Force Fields. Phases of the Kinetic, Hayward Gallery, London
  • 2000/2001: Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin lugar 1918–1968, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid[22]
  • 2001: Geometric Abstraction. Latin American Art in the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.
  • 2004: Ruth Vollmer & Gego: Thinking the Line, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe
  • 2013: "Zero" Museu Oscar Niemeyer (in collaboration with D.O.P. Foundation and The Goethe Institut), Curitiba, Brazil.[23]
  • 2013/2014: Zero Iberê Camargo Foundation (in collaboration with D.O.P. Collection and The Goethe Institut), Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.[23]
  • 2014: Zero Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (in collaboration with D.O.P. Foundation, The Goethe Institut, Prohelvetia & Alliance), São Paulo, Brazil.[23]
  • 2016: Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016, Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles
  • 2016: Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, The Met Breuer, New York

Selected works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kalenberg, Angel. "Gego". Encyclopedia of Latin American & Caribbean Art. Ed. Jane Turner. 1 vol. New York: New York, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-531075-7.
  2. ^ Cotter, Holland."Off the Page and in the Air, Drawing Transformed", The New York Times, Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Gertrud Gego Goldschmidt", Jewish Women's Archive, Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  4. ^ Phaidon Editors (2019). Great women artists. Phaidon Press. p. 149. ISBN 978-0714878775. {{cite book}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ a b Amor, Monica. Another Geometry: Gego's Reticulárea, 1969-1982", October, Issue 113 (2005): 101-30, 25.
  6. ^ Rottner, Nadja. Gego 1957-1988 Thinking the Line. Hatje Cantz, Germany: 2006, pg. 59; ISBN 978-3-7757-1787-8
  7. ^ based on what Gego told me during a visit to Caracas in 1984 and my knowledge of Goldschmidt family history; a grand nephew, my maternal grandmother was a sister of Gego. User:"Stan Osborne"
  8. ^ my knowledge of Goldschmidt family history. User:"Stan Osborne"
  9. ^ a b Gego, Sabiduras and Other Texts by Gego, ed. Maria E. Huizi (Caracas: The Museum of Fine Arts, 1995); ISBN 978-0-300-11163-7
  10. ^ "Timeline: Venezuela", BBC News, Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d Lygia Clark, Gego, Mathias Goeritz, Helio Oiticica, Mira Schendel, The Experimental Exercise of Freedom, ed. Susan Martin (Germany: Cantz, 1999); ISBN 978-0-914357-64-3
  12. ^ a b Gego, Questioning the Line: Gego in Context, ed. Mari Carmen Ramirez (Houston: University of Texas Press, 2003). ISBN 0-89090-119-8.
  13. ^ "Pressing Ideas: Fifty Years of Women's Lithographs from Tamarind, Artist Spotlight: Gego". Broad Strokes: The National Museum of Women in the Arts' Blog. 4 August 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  14. ^ a b Documents, ICAA. "ICAA Documents > THE ARCHIVE > Full Record". Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  15. ^ GEGO: Line As Object. Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag. 2013. p. 161. ISBN 978-3-7757-3740-1.
  16. ^ "Fundación Gego - About", Fundación Gego, Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  17. ^ Huizi, Maria Elena; Manrique Cabrera, Josefina (2005). Sabiduras and other texts : writings by Gego. Houston: International Center for the Arts of the Americas and Fundación Gego. ISBN 0300111630.
  18. ^ Latin American and Caribbean Art: MOMA at El Museo, ed. Fatima Becht (Madrid: Turner, 2004); ISBN 978-0-87070-460-4.
  19. ^ "Questioning the Line", Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Retrieved online 11 November 2018.
  20. ^ "Gego. Line as Object", Henry Moore Foundation, Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Versiones del Sur: Cinco propuestas en torno al arte en América. Heteropías. Medio siglo sin-lugar: 1918 - 1968.", Museo Reina Sofia, Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  22. ^ a b c "ZERO" - exhibition catalog of the most important travelling exhibition in America of Zero Group, edited by Heike van der Valentyn, with essays by Otto, Piene, Paulo Venencio Filho, Heinz-Norbert Jocks, Heike van den Valentyn, published by Museu Oscar Niemayer, Iberê Camargo Foundation & Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and printed in São Paulo, Brazil, 2013, ISBN 978-85-60638-37-6
  23. ^ Gego (2016). "Reticulárea cuadrada 71/6 [Square Reticulárea]". Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible (18 March 2016 – 4 September 2016). The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

External links[edit]