The Five Collections

There are five areas of deep focus within the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros (CPPC): modernist geometric abstraction from Latin America; artworks and documentation of traveler artists who explored and worked in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; ethnographic objects from and documentation of twelve of the indigenous tribes from the Orinoco river basin in Venezuela’s state of Amazonas; art and material culture from Latin America’s colonial period; and Latin American contemporary art.

The modern art collection of the CPPC consists primarily of geometric abstraction by 20th-century artists from Latin America, with particular depth in Constructive Universalism, Inventionism, Arte Madí, Concrete art, Neo-Concrete art and Kinetic art. The collection also includes works by select European and North American artists whose production was in dialogue with artists of the region.

In addition to this cohesive and comprehensive presentation of mid-century geometric abstraction, the CPPC’s modern art collection also features the work of figurative artists who were important in the development of modern art, including Armando Reverón, Xul Solar, Bárbaro Rivas, and Francisco Narváez, to name a few.

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The contemporary art collection has developed alongside the CPPC's other four areas of collecting focus, and in many cases the growth of the contemporary collection is in active dialogue with these collections. The artists are primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean, and represent a wide range of mediums including performance, installation, video, painting, and sculpture. The collection also includes works by artists from other parts of the world who have engaged with Latin America, reflecting the global nature of contemporary art production.

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Colonial Period
The genesis of CPPC's collection of art and objects from the colonial period is framed by artworks from Venezuela's Hispanic and early Republican periods. Over time, the collection has grown to include paintings and sculptures; objects—including silverware and furniture—as well as devotional artifacts from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries.

Primarily crafted by artisans in Spanish and Portuguese America, these objects reflect the transcontinental network of colonial societies through their iconographies, styles, methods of production, and circulation. The collection also exemplifies the social fabrics that emerged on local levels, particularly the various roles in which artworks and devotional objects were displayed and used in religious and domestic settings.

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With an educational mission that testifies to the wealth of the region's material production, the CPPC preserves and manages the Orinoco Collection, a group of cultural artifacts from twelve ethnic communities from the Orinoco River basin: the De’áruwa (Piaroa), Ye’kuana, Yanomami, Híwi (Guahibo), E’ñepa (Panare), Wakuénai (Curripaco), Baniva, Baré, Puinave, Warekena, Tsase (Píapoco) and Hoti.

The material culture preserved includes baskets, body ornaments, musical instruments, ritual objects, weapons, utilitarian objects as well as archival documentation.

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Traveler Artists to Latin America
Spanning from 1638 to 1887, the paintings, drawings, watercolors, photographs, maps, books and archival documents that make up the Traveler Artists collection trace the evolution of Latin American landscapes by artists from Europe and the Americas. This collection offers an historical account of the genesis of this genre, beginning with the arrival of the Dutch painter Frans Post to Brazil in 1637, and continuing with journeys by chroniclers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists including Lydia Byam (c. 1800), Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900), Marc Ferrez (1843–1923), Maria Graham (1785–1842), Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859), Camille Pissarro (1830–1903), and José María Velasco (1840–1912). These depictions of the Americas range from romanticized scenes based on Western conventions to directly observed illustrations of travel and expeditions, and include scientific studies of fauna and flora as well as historical records.

This collection also includes a body of work by French artist and draughtsman Auguste Morisot (1857–1951) created during the 1886 expedition of anthropologist and explorer Jean Chaffanjon (1857–1951), whose goal was to be the first to reach the sources of the Orinoco River. Morisot’s field paintings, drawings, fumée noire prints and detailed travel journal capture the region's biological and ecological diversity, as well as the customs of its inhabitants.

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