Press release

Olga de Amaral

In autumn 2024, the Fondation Cartier is proud to present the first major retrospective in Europe of Olga de Amaral, a key figure of the Colombian art scene and of Fiber Art.

Since the 1960s, Olga de Amaral has pushed the limits of the textile medium by increasing experiments with various materials (linen, cotton, horsehair, gesso, gold leaf or palladium) and techniques: she weaves, knots, braids, and interweaves the threads to create monumental, threedimensional pieces. Unclassifiable, her work borrows as much from the Modernist principles she discovered at the Cranbrook Academy in the United States, as from the vernacular traditions of her country and from pre- Columbian art. After presenting six works from the Brumas series as part of the Southern Geometries exhibition in 2018, the Fondation Cartier retraces Olga de Amaral’s entire career and celebrates a figure who brought about a true revolution in the textile arts.

The exhibition brings together a large number of historical works never presented outside Colombia, as well as contemporary pieces with vibrant shapes and colors. The architecture of the exhibition is designed by Lina Ghotmeh. Playing on contrasts and scales, it links the different works together and initiates a dialogue with our memory, senses, and the surrounding landscape.

Born in 1932 in Bogotá, Olga de Amaral is an emblematic figure of the Colombian art scene. Following a degree in architecture at the Colegio Mayor de Cundinamarca, she pursued her studies at the Cranbrook Academy in Michigan, the American equivalent of the German Bauhaus. While there, she discovered textile art in the weaving workshop of Marianne Strengell, a Finnish- American artist and designer who was one of the first to favor the structure and grid of textiles over the pattern.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Olga de Amaral participated in the development of Fiber Art alongside Sheila Hicks and Magdalena Abakanowicz, using new materials and techniques borrowed both from the Modernist principles and from the popular traditions of her native country. Her large-scale abstract works free themselves from the wall and refuse any form of categorization. At once, paintings, sculptures, installations, and architecture, they envelop the audience in the artist’s sensorial, intimate universe. Olga de Amaral was named "Visionary Artist" by New York's Museum of Art & Design in 2005 and received the Women's Cacus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. Her work can be found in major public and private collections worldwide, including Tate Modern, MoMA, Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has dedicated a major exhibition to her entitled To Weave a Rock in 2021.