Juan Melé
(Buenos Aires, 1923 - 2012)
Concrete Art in Argentina
Juan Melé
Born in October 15, 1923, in Buenos Aires, Juan Nicolás Melé began his studies on drawing and painting with Enrique Rodríguez at the age of 11. He attended the Escuela de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano –a schoolmate of Gregorio Vardanega and Tomás Maldonado– and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredon.
Soon after graduating as a professor, Melé approached the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención, a group integrated by Alfredo Hlito, Lidy Prati, Manuel Espinosa, Enio Iommi, the Lozza brothers, Tomás Maldonado, Primaldo Monaco, Alberto Molenberg, Claudio Girola, Jorge Souza, Antonio Caraduje, Oscar Núñez, Virgilio Villalba y Contreras, with whom he participated in the third exhibition hosted by the Sociedad Argentina de Artistas Plásticos (SAAP) in October 1946.
In 1948/49 he studied at L'École du Louvre with a scholarship granted by the French government. He had exhibitions in Italy, where he met the members of the Concrete Group of Milan. In Switzerland he met Max Bill and, in the Parisian milieu he got acquainted with Michel Seuphor, Georges Vantongerloo, Sonia Delaunay, Antoine Pevsner, and other artists and intellectuals working within the Concrete tendency.
At the same time he had exhibitions at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles and at the Maison de l'Amerique Latine.
He returned to Argentina in 1950, where he continued with his creative production. He was professor of History of the Arts at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes. His works formed part of the Argentine representation to the II Biennial International Exhibition of San Pablo (1953). In 1955 he became a member of the Asociación Arte Nuevo (New Art Association).
Besides his plastic search, Melé published articles about aspects of Concrete art. In his considerations about irregular-framed painting he decided on the acceptance of the ‘indispensable contrast’, as a logical consequence of composition and the laws of perception.
He settled in New York in 1974, where he continued with his work and had exhibitions at the Cayman Gallery (1978) and the Arch Gallery (1983/5).
In 1981 he had an exhibition at the Museo Eduardo Sivori, Buenos Aires, and returned to Argentina in 1986, where he had an individual exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno the following year.
Since 1990 onwards he lived partly in Buenos Aires and partly in Paris. Among his last exhibitions Art in Latin America, London (1989) can be mentioned as well as Argentina, Arte Concreto Invención 1945. Grupo Madí 1946 (Argentina, Concrete Art-Invention 1945, Madí Group 1946), at Rachel Adler Gallery, New York (1990); Concrete and Madí Art, Museum of Constructive Art, Zurich (1991); Arte Latinoamericano. 500 aniversario, Museo de Arte Moderno, Sevilla (1991); and Art from Argentina, hosted in Oxford, Stuttgart, Lisbon and Buenos Aires (1994); recently, the Abstract Art from the Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires and Montevideo 1933/53 exhibition, at The Americas Society of New York (2001).
He received the Alberto J. Trabucco Award granted by the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1997. In 1999 he published his memoirs under the title La vanguardia del ’40 (The ‘40s Avant-garde).
He died in Buenos Aires on March 29th 2012