Cielito lindo

An exhibition by Julio Grinblatt of revolutionary and melancholic photographs of the blue sky


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Curatorial practice

Organizing Institutions



Osvaldo Romberg


Photolabs Professional Color and Buenos Aires Color (Buenos Aires, Argentina), LMI (Mexico City, Mexico), Fotosíntesis (Madrid, Spain), Plus Color (Córdoba, Argentina), Guillermo Stein and Steinbranding, Philip Sofaer, Nicolás Guagnini, Bibi Calderaro, Nina Grinblatt

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104


0% Formal - 100% Informal

Slought is pleased to announce "Cielito lindo," an exhibition of photographs by Julio Grinblatt, on display from February 19 - May 19, 2005. Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, February 19, 2005 from 6:30-8:30pm.

Photography has evidently been deemed "hot" in the last several years, as nearly fifty percent of exhibitions today in New York, Paris, Berlin or any other international city attest. This circumstance compels us to pose the following questions: What is photography today? How does a photographer become "accepted" in the field of art? To what extent has the banality of subject matter characteristic of so many contemporary practices and exhibitions plunged photography into a parade of decadence? These and other questions are the focus of this exhibition, curated by Osvaldo Romberg, which also explores how artistic photography has historically struggled to define itself as an autonomous medium, competing against other forms such as advertising and photojournalism.

In this exhibition, Grinblatt sidesteps these tensions and anxieties by simply photographing a blue sky, and then distributing the negative to photographic labs in different countries, with the simple request that they print the most beautiful sky. This work creates a kind of corny conceptualism by joining the subtle mockery of patriotism and sentimentality with a radical avant-garde procedure.

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In Uruguay and Argentina (Grinblatt's country of origin), the word cielito means "small sky" but also speaks to the idea of a modest happiness. Cielito was also an 18th Century dance popular among revolutionary gauchos. The original Tupamaros, who fought the Spanish conquerors, had a dance called cielito de los Tupamaros, and the first sentence of the song begins: Cielito, Cielito lindo? When Grinblatt gives his new work on display at Slought the title "Cielito Lindo," Romberg argues, he creates an interesting contradiction between the revolutionary and melancholic connotation found in the title "small sky," and the cool and programmed style of production in this particular project.

For Romberg, the images on the walls of Slought involve just one negative, and copies printed in different countries by different printers. They enact a sophisticated commentary on the idea of taste. He understands the project to comment with deliberate literalness on the current prevalence of an easy or weak multiculturalism, a multiculturalism which presupposes that nationalism or ethnicity defines taste. Such ideas are promoted by two seemingly opposing groups, those who embrace globalization and late capitalism with a vengeance, and the curators of the so-called Third World, who believe that they oppose the economic underpinnings of the art world by organizing peripheral art biennales. Grinblatt belongs to a new tendency for which irony has become a category of taste and of value. Which should not prevent us from looking with renewed fervor and no sunshades to our "beautiful, small sky"...

Julio Grinblatt currently resides in New York. Publications on the artist include "Uses of photography/Julio Grinblatt," published by FFi - Fotografie Forum international, Frankfurt, Germany (2004). He also appears in publications including "Contact Sheet," from Light Work, Syracuse, NY, Issue #127 (2004), "Mapas abiertos - Fotografía Latinoamericana 1991-2002," Lunwerg Editores, Madrid, Spain (2003), "Blue Sky # 38," Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, Oregon (2003), and "Blink," Phaidon, UK (2002).

Recent solo exhibitions of his work "People facing their birthday cakes," include FFi - Fotografie Forum international, Frankfurt, Germany (2004) and Ruth Benzacar Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2003). Recent group exhibitions include "Traces of Friday," at ICA, Philadelphia, PA (2003), and "Mapas abiertos: Fotografía Latinoamericana 1991-2002," at Centro de la imagen, Mexico DF (2004), P. de la Virreina, Barcelona, Spain (2003); F. Telefónica, Madrid, Spain (2003). He also participated in "The S-Files," at El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY (2002), "New Tendencies," at the Museum of Modern Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2002), "Tipping Point," at White Columns, New York, NY, (2001), and "Beyond the Document," at MNCA Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain, (2000).

This exhibition features photographs that resulted from the following instructions:

1) I took a photograph of a clear sky. The photograph had no references whatsoever.

2) I sent the negative to a professional color lab.

3) I asked the printer to print a beautiful sky.

4) I repeated this operation in different color labs and/or in different cities.

5) I aim to map the variation of the idea of beauty.