Yente is the pseudonym of Eugenia Crenovich, who was born in Buenos Aires on November 6, 1905 and died there on November 28, 1990. She was the youngest of five children to a Jewish family originally from Russia –at present Ukraine– that came to Argentina in the 19th century to join the colonies founded by Baron Hirsch.
A painter, illustrator and essayist, she studied philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and she graduated in 1932. She began her work as an artist at Vicente Puig’s studio in Buenos Aires and at the Fine Arts Academy of the Universidad de Santiago de Chile. There, from 1933 to 1935, she attended Hernan Gazmuri’s painting and composition studio. She would later continue her studies at that Chilean artist's studio after he was forced to resign from his professorship.
In 1935, she met Juan Del Prete, and in 1937 she was involved in introducing abstraction in Argentina –although she would never condemned figurative art and, indeed, would continue to produce it for the rest of her life. Yente thus became the first female artist in Argentine to become part of the abstract movement.
As part of her work in abstract art, in 1945 she started making reliefs and constructive objects in celotex, a pliable material that she could easily carve. As from 1957 to 1958, she produced abstract tapestries with wool and colored threads combined with paint. Starting in 1957, she turned to what is known as “abstract impressionism” a free, non-figurative painting involving small impasto brushstrokes that would make the surface of the painting vibrate.
Yente had made use of collages since the 1940s to add texture to her paintings –especially in her illustrated books– she began making collages decisively in the 1960s. She took full advantage of the expressive and connotative features of a wide range of materials, especially those found in her family environment. From 1938-1984, she made more than twenty illustrated books –none of them published–, based on existing stories or her own stories, some of which were autobiographical. In these works, short phrases are occasionally used as a sort of table of contents or title to structure stories that are mainly presented through images.
Her first solo show was held at Amigos del Arte in 1935, where she presented 24 figurative drawings made since 1932. In 1945 and 1946, she exhibited abstract paintings and reliefs at Müller Gallery. In 1950, her original book illustrations were shown at Viau Gallery. In1952, she returned to Müller for a retrospective of her abstract and figurative works dating back to 1937. At Van Riel Gallery, she exhibited her non-figurative work in 1954, 1956 and 1957 and, that same year, her illustrated books were shown at Alcora Gallery. In 1958, a retrospective of her abstract works was held at the Asociación Estímulo de Bellas Artes; the show included 80 pieces, including paintings, objects and reliefs. In 1958, she also showed her tapestries at Heroics Gallery. In 1960, her abstract impressionist works were exhibited at Yumar Gallery, and in 1964 collages made with burned matches and packaging paper, that she had made in Italy were shown at Witcomb Gallery. The next year, she presented Ciudades de Italia (Cities of Italy), a set of collages at Van Riel Gallery. In 1966, at that same gallery, she presented the Antiguo Testamento (Old Testament) series, also in collage. A year later at Van Riel, she presented El jardín del Edén (The Garden of Eden), works done on tar-covered papers; in 1968, she exhibited the photomontages Turistas en Italia (Tourists in Italy), and in 1969, figurative paintings. She returned to that venue again in 1971, with a retrospective of 70 non-figurative works done between 1937 and 1963. Two years later, she carried out a solo exhibition of her collages at the Schneider Gallery in Rome. In 1976, she returned to Van Riel Gallery, with the Con corona de martirio (With a martyr's crown) series and Sin promesa de Paraíso (No promise of paradise). These paintings and collages speak of violence, a theme that reflected the turbulent times of the military dictatorship in Argentina. In 1979, at Sarmiento Gallery, she organized an anthological show with non-figurative works from 1937-1962, and at the same gallery she exhibited her series of paintings and collages entitled Tiempos sombríos (Dark Times) in 1980.
Yente also participated in major group shows both in Argentina and abroad, including: Arte Nuevo, Salón Kraft, 1947; Nuevas realidades, Van Riel Gallery, 1948; el 2° Salón argentino de arte no figurativo, Van Riel Gallery, 1949; 50 Años de pintura argentina, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 1950; Salones de Arte Sacro Mediator Dei from 1954-1957 and in 1959; La figura en la pintura argentina contemporánea, Museo Eduardo Sívori and Arte Abstracto. Del Prete, Yente, Paparella, Testa, Lerner Gallery, both in 1957.
She represented Argentina at the IV San Pablo Biennial in Brazil, 1957, and at L'Art Visuel en Argentine, Exposition International et Universelle de Bruxelles, Belgium, 1958. With the Agrupación de Arte No Figurativo (first known as a.n.f. and later as ANFA, the Non-Figurative Art Group), of-which she was a founding member, she exhibited in Buenos Aires, Paraná (Entre Ríos), Rosario (Santa Fe), La Paz (Bolivia) from 1958-1964 and at The Riverside Museum in New York in 1962.
In 1960, she participated in 150 años de arte argentino at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and in the Primera Exposición Internacional de Arte Moderno at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires; in 1961, she was part of the show Pintura argentine in Lima, Perú and Río de Janeiro, Brazil and at the Arte sagrado de la Argentina at the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome. In 1980, she was part of 50 años de pintura argentina 1930/1980 at the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Juan B. Castagnino in Rosario and in 1984, of Maestros argentinos. Homenaje al libro 22 pintores of Julio Payró, held at Museo Sívori, Buenos Aires.
She won awards at the Salones de Viña del Mar in 1934, 1935 and 1936, and at the Centenario de Valparaiso in 1937, both in Chile; and at the Salón de Acuarelistas of Buenos Aires between 1939 and 1950. She also obtained the Primer Premio Ilustración at the Salón de La Plata in 1944, and with her work Abstracción (Abstraction), she got the first prize at the Primer Salón Anual de Pintura of the ACA (Automóvil Club Argentino) in 1958. That same year, she obtained the bronze medal at the International Exhibition in Brussels.
In addition to making art, she worked in art theory, mainly around the figure of Del Prete. In fact, her works on him are still being published. Her writings have included “Cronología en la trayectoria artística de Del Prete” in Pintura montada; Primicia (exhibition catalogue), Buenos Aires, Van Riel Gallery, June 1962; and “Lo realizado y lo destruido en la obra de Juan Del Prete” en Obras destruidas de Del Prete, Buenos Aires, Artist Edition, 1971.
In 1979, one of her works –Composición con relieve (Composition with Relief), 1945– was chosen for the cover of the book Arte de América. 25 años de crítica by Rafael Squirru and published by Editorial Gaglianone. In that book, Squirru analyzes Yente's work, which he also examines in Arte argentine hoy, a book released by the same publishing house in 1983.
Over the past few decades, her works have been included in shows such as Del constructivismo a la geometría sensible, Harrod's en el Arte, 1992; I Exposición de Artes Visuales DAIA, Casa de la Cultura de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 1996; La tradición constructiva en el MAMBA, Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, 1998; Muestra de arte y subasta por la reconstrucción de AMIA (Asociación Mutual israelita Argentina), Alvear Palace Hotel, 1999; Siglo XX argentino. Arte y Cultura, Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, 1999/2000; Judaica Argentina, Centro Cultural Borges, 2001; Arte Astratta Argentina, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (GAMeC) in Bergamo, Italy, 2002; and at the presentation of that same show at Fundación Proa in 2003. She was also included in a show on Argentine artists who deal with Jewish themes, a show organized by the AMIA at the Centro Cultural Victoria Ocampo, Mar del Plata, 2006; at the Primera Bienal de Arte Geométrico, in the Museo de Arte Construido, Buenos Aires, 2007; in the historical art exhibit entitled Aquellos años 40, held at Expotrastiendas 2007; and at the international art fair Arte BA 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
In 1995, Vermeer Gallery organized Yente y Juan, a show dedicated to her work and the works of Del Prete, and in 2005, in homage to the 100th anniversary of her birth, the AMIA presented a group of 29 works –almost all of them abstract– made between 1937 and 1971.
In appreciation of her abstract work, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba), organized an exhibition with 72 of her works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings and tapestries, curated by Adriana Lauria. The exhibition called Yente/Prati –included another section dedicated to the artist Lidy Prati– since August until October 2009, including a complete catalogue-book (200 pages, English-Spanish edition, reproductions of the exhibited works).
In 2009 and 2010 participated in the 2nd and 3rd Muestra y subasta AMIA de Arte Contemporáneo Argentino, both in AMIA, Buenos Aires. In 2010 her work is included together with over 80 artists in Realidad y Utopia. Argentiniens künstlerischer Weg in die Gegenwart which took place at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, exhibition to be presented the following year at the Museo Nacional de San Carlos in Mexico City. In 2010 his work involved in El imaginario by Ignacio Pirovano, patrimonial exhibition for the reopening of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, in Libros de Artista de Argentina, argentine stand in Buchmesse Frankfurter (Frankfurt Book Fair), in Grandes autores. Grandes ilustradores, Museo Eduardo Sivori, Buenos Aires and in Imágenes e historias. Fotografía documental y artes visuales de la Argentina 1850-2010, Centro Cultural Recoleta, held in 2011.
In 2011 she took part in Homenaje a los años 40, historical exhibition of the fair of Buenos Aires galleries. Expotrastiendas. During this year her work also appears in Abstracciones/un recorte de la colección Castagnino + Macro which took place at the Museo Castagnino in Rosario. Between 2011 and 2012 her work is included in Jóvenes y modernos de los 50 at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires.
Between September and October 2013 the gallery Alejandro Faggioni - Art Studio in Buenos Aires organized an exhibition of 26 works, abstract as well as figurative, carried out between 1937 and 1982.
A significant number of her works are part of the collection of the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires, Museo Eduardo Sívori, Fondo Nacional de las Artes, Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes de Santa Fe, Rosa Galisteo de Rodríguez, Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes de Rosario Juan B. Castagnino, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, la Casa Argentina in Jerusalem and at the AMIA. Her work is also included in private collections in Argentina, Chile, Italy, Germany, Israel and the United States.
Her suggestive work has gone through different phases, post-Cubism, geometric Constructivism as well as free forms of abstraction. Later, she developed her own type of Informalism, in which she applied thick impastos of a densely expressive material –though contradicting the characteristics of the movement– tinged with subtle colors and fine transparencies. The origin of her production lay in figurative art, and she remained faithful to it over time, with a persistent inclination towards sketches done using well-defined lines and delicate, well-executed technique. Her work evidences an elaborate language, one that made use of techniques such as drawing, painting, reliefs and objects, collages and tapestries.