Remembering the Center for Creativity Economics
In 2010 Carlos Rodriguez, the president of Buenos Aires' Universidad del CEMA, created the world's first - and only - Center for Creativity Economics. During the next ten years, the CCE presented a number of short courses and seminars. But the most important of its events was an annual lecture by an Argentine artist, who was given a Creative Career Award.
The first four of these lectures were given by four of the greatest figures in the history of Argentine art. All four were conceptual innovators who had first risen to prominence in the late 1950s and early '60s, and made radical innovations in the forms of visual art. All had spent time in Paris and New York early in their careers before returning to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, the isolation of Argentina meant that their later work was largely ignored in the capitals of the art world, but all came to be celebrated in their native land, and their art has been featured in major exhibitions in its most prestigious galleries and museums.
At CEMA in 2010, Nicolas Garcia Uriburu - the Green Man - spoke of inventing environmental art, at the remarkable event, on the eve of the 1968 Venice Biennale, when he created the first of his trademark Colorations, by turning the Grand Canal bright green.
In 2011, Marta Minujin spoke of living in Paris and New York as a young artist, of creating artistic Happenings, and of working with Christo and Warhol.
In 2012, Gyula Kosice described his founding of the Arte Madi movement, and spoke of the floating explorations of artistic outer space that he called hydrospatial cities, and of his stunning kinetic sculptures, that glowed and sparkled to create complex and poetic optical effects.
And in 2013, Luis Felipe Noe spoke of the magical time when he founded Otra Figuracion with three gifted young colleagues - Ernesto Deira, Romulo Maccio, and Jorge de la Vega. Their work erased the border between gestural abstraction and figuration, and brought Argentina's chaotic modern history into the world of advanced art.
The art of these four masters is both beautiful and fascinating, and their neglect in Paris, New York and the other centers of western art is unfortunate for all who love art. Sadly, Nicolas Uriburu and Gyula Kosice have died in the past decade. But Marta Minujin and Luis Noe remain healthy and active, working and exhibiting in Buenos Aires.
Universidad del CEMA has moved on: Carlos Rodriguez has retired as president, and the CCE is no longer active. But for those art lovers fortunate enough to have been at CEMA to listen to these four great masters of Argentine art, and to have seen them make their art come alive on a screen and in their memories, those magnificent evenings a decade ago will not soon be forgotten.