Alejandro Otero

(b. 1921 - 1990 )


Alejandro Otero (1921–1990) Venezuelan painter, sculptor, administrator, and writer, is regarded as one of the country’s most ingenuous artists. Otero was born at El Manteco, Bolivar State. He studied painting, sculpture, and stained glass at the School of Fine and Applied Arts, Caracas, 1939–45. Upon his graduation the artist was awarded a government grant that enabled him to visit Paris. While his early work had been influenced by Cézanne and Cubism, while in Paris his work transitioned into complete abstraction; the transition can be seen in his Cafetera (Coffeepot) series.

Otero stayed in Paris between 1949–52, and after his return to Venezuela he worked along with other artists on the design of Cuidad Universidad of Caracas at the Universad Central de Venezuela. For this large-scale undertaking, other artists such as Calder, Legér, and Le Corbusier also participated. This urban planning was masterminded by Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1900–75), Venezuelan art patron and architect. With support from the national government, Villanueva commissioned work from leading artists around the world. For this modeling of the public university in Caracas, Otero contributed the exterior design of the School of Architecture.

In 1955 he began a long series of Coloritmos (Colour-rhythms), probably his best-known works, which feature patterns of vertical or horizontal stripes in a manner anticipating op art. From 1960 to 1964 he again lived in Paris, and after his return to Venezuela he served as vice-president of the National Institute of Culture and Fine Arts, 1964–6.

Oter had a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 1966, and the following year he began producing large outdoor constructivist sculptures, a good example of which is Delta Solar (1977) outside the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Otero also wrote and lectured a good deal on art.

See artist Bio.