Ten Moments in South American Generative Art History

After consulting with artists and contacts, Le Random's Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) compiled a poster for Bright Moments Buenos Aires, designed by Qian of Bright Moments. The poster memorializes these ten moments in South American generative art history. The moments can also be found in a permanent section of our larger Generative Art Timeline.
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Lidy Prati, Concret A4, 1948. Public Domain

Ten Moments in South American Generative Art History

After consulting with artists and contacts, Le Random's Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) compiled a poster for Bright Moments Buenos Aires, designed by Qian of Bright Moments. The poster memorializes these ten moments in South American generative art history. The moments can also be found in a permanent section of our larger Generative Art Timeline.

1. Ancient Andean Textiles Weave Legacy of Identity (900 BCE)

Tunic with Stepped Triangles, Nazca culture, South Coast, A.D. 700–800. Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery

For millennia, Andean textiles wove together stories of identity and ancestral beliefs. Predating written languages, textiles served as the predominant medium for conveying images and concepts. These intricate cloth creations, including striking geometric patterns, held profound significance in the Andean world. In life, they conveyed social status and symbolism through materials, colors and motifs. In death, they adorned sacred mummy bundles. Even today, Andean textiles remain both utilitarian items and instruments of ritual, embodying deep cultural values. Weaving, dyeing and knotting techniques created exquisite textiles, transcending time to express the soul of South America.

Monumental twentieth century textile artist Anni Albers was heavily influenced by Andean weaving. She studied the practice extensively, making several trips to South America after moving to the United States prior to WWII. She wrote of them in her 1965 book, On Weaving:

Of infinite fantasy within the world of threads, conveying strength or playfulness, mystery or the reality of their surroundings, endlessly varied in presentation and construction, even though bound to a code of basic concepts, these [Andean] textiles set a standard of achievement that is unsurpassed."

Finally, prominent South American Constructivist, Joaquín Torres García's concept of "constructive universalism" sought to root contemporary practice in ancient Andean aesthetic traditions. Torres García would prove influential to the burgeoning Concrete art scene in 1940s Buenos Aires.

2. Magazine Arturo Births Madí and AACI (1944)

Arturo, no. 1 (1944). Buenos Aires

Termed “an essential document in the bibliography of 20th-century history” by Jorge Glusberg, the modest abstract art magazine’s first-and-only issue in 1944 was printed in the Buenos Aires Caballito district. Yet, according to Glusberg himself, the single issue was somehow responsible for birthing both Gyula Kosice, Carmelo Arden Quin and Rhod Rothfuss's Madí in 1945 as well as Tomas Maldonado and Lidy Prati's Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención (AACI) in 1947. 

While similar in style, Madí was bolder and more playful than AACI. Both groups were inspired by the work of Uruguayan, Joaquin Torres García, founder of Latin American Constructivism, whose work appeared multiple times throughout the publication. Torres García particularly inspired Madí's Arden Quin and Rothfuss. The magazine, which rejected figuration for abstraction, also proved influential in its advocacy for the societal benefits of geometric art.

3. Eduardo Mac Entyre Founds the Pintura Generativa Group (1959)

Seis Formas en Dos Circunferencias (Six Forms in Two Circumferences), 1966. Art Museum of the Americas Collection © Estate of Eduardo Mac Entyre

Eduardo Mac Entyre, a Buenos Aires native, co-founded the transformative Pintura Generativa group alongside Miguel Angel Vidal and mentor Ignacio Pirovano in a reaction against the rigidity of 1950s concrete art. Mac Entyre pioneered a more dynamic visual language, pulsating with motion. The group chose the term "generative" but actually did not use the word as we understand it today to refer to art made by an autonomous system. Rather, Mac Entyre and Vidal used "generative" because it aptly represented their intention to transform static elements into dynamic, evolving forms that not only moved within a two-dimensional plane but also acquired a new identity and vitality in space.

Mac Entyre vividly demonstrates the group’s signature use of precisely drawn lines to create vibratory effects in his Seis Formas en Dos Circunferencias (1966). The group’s innovative style garnered international recognition, for Mac Entyre in particular, as he participated in exhibitions worldwide. Throughout his prolific career, he relentlessly explored the myriad possibilities of circular forms in painting and three-dimensional artworks.

4. Julio Le Parc and Horacio Garcia Rossi Co-Found GRAV (1960)

“Le Parc, Sobrino, Morellet, Stein, Garcia-Rossi, Paris, 1963.” Courtesy of the artist

Argentine painters Horacio García Rossi and Julio Le Parc, alongside luminaries like François Morellet and Vera Molnár, founded GRAV, the profoundly important collective that bridged the analog and digital art worlds as part of the New Tendencies movement. Initially the group was rooted in op and kinetic art, two critical predecessors of electronic art that anticipated its use of motion.

Like Mac Entyre’s Pintura Generativa, the group aimed to liberate art from the static canvas. GRAV also sought to bring art directly to the public, anticipating mass media art. Its emphasis on audience participation also served as a key predecessor to today's digital art.

5. Jorge Glusberg Establishes the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC) in Buenos Aires (1968)

Arte y Cibernética. San Francisco, Londres, Buenos Aires. Exhibición del Centro de Arte y Comunicación, 1971

Jorge Glusberg established the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC) in Buenos Aires. The CAyC served as a multidisciplinary artist workshop, fostering an innovative space where artists converged to explore the interplay between art, science and communication.

The concept of "systems" served as a central framework that linked CAyC's multitudinous endeavors. It also connects the institution directly to generative art's systems focus. CAyC's notion of systems encompassed both its promotion of arte de sistemas (Systems Art) as well as the organization's functioning as a connected system for Latin American artists and their counterparts in Argentina. CAyC exhibited and projected this "new" Argentine art on a global scale, reflecting its international perspective and influence.

6. The Cordeiros Reimagine Generative Creativity (1972)

Analivia Cordeiro, 0=45 version I (still), 1974. Courtesy of the artist and owned by Le Random

Computer art pioneer Waldemar Cordeiro advocated for the use of digital media in art the year following his Arteônica [art electronics] exhibition (1971) where he introduced his version of computer-aided design to the art world. Teaming up with physicist and engineer Giorgio Moscati, Cordeiro organized some of the earliest computer art shows in South America.

The legacy extended through his daughter, Analivia Cordeiro, who embarked on pioneering research fusing dance and mathematics around this same time. Her creation, M 3x3, became Brazil's first video art piece, debuting at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1973. It is also among the earliest video dance works globally. This moment was suggested by Monica Rizzolli.

7. Suzete Venturelli Founds the computational art research laboratory MediaLab/UnB (1986)

Media Lab / UnB | Brasília DF

Professor Suzete Venturelli founded the computational art research laboratory at the MediaLab/UnB to bring together a diverse community of students and researchers passionate about the intersection of art and technology. This visionary institution continues to cultivate inventive projects spanning animation, computational art, AR, HCI and more. MediaLab/UnB fosters a dynamic synergy between art and technology while addressing the socio-artistic and political issues of contemporary society. This moment was suggested by Monica Rizzolli.

8. FILE Festival (2000)

FILE São Paulo 2015 - The New e-Motion. Designed by Estúdio Quadradão.

Organized across Brazil to exhibit the diversity of media art in the region, South America's largest art and technology festival has operated annually since 2000. This free festival provides a platform for artists to present their work and receive awards, while allowing audience members to immerse themselves in the latest developments in digital art. This moment was suggested by Monica Rizzolli.

9. Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and Jen Lowe Teach the World Shaders (2015)

The Book of Shaders by Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and Jen Lowe. Image courtesy of the authors

Patricio Gonzalez Vivo and Jen Lowe’s incredibly versatile project, The Book of Shaders, has been published in twelve languages and applies to various environments, including Processing, openFrameworks and Three.js. The online book and toolkit have revolutionized the creative landscape since their initial publication by teaching the world about the transformative power of fragment shaders, which offer enhanced control and faster rendering to creative coders, game developers and engineers alike.

10. HEN Founded by Rafael Lima (2021)

With low monetary barriers to entry and no gatekeepers, Hic et Nunc (HEN) exploded onto the digital art scene as a marketplace fostering a loyal following of digital creatives. Before HEN, many established generative artists were skeptical of NFTs and avoided associations with them. As respected artists such as Mario Klingemann became some of the earliest adopters, HEN gained instant legitimacy.

The platform rapidly became popular with a near-utopian, frenzied community as fear of NFTs in the broader generative art community faded. This explosion of creativity brought generative art from South America, with its illustrious legacy, to the entire world.


Peter Bauman (Monk Antony) is Le Random's Editor-in-Chief.

Special thanks to Monica Rizzolli and Ana María Caballero for their recommendations.