Searching for Romberg

A conference exploring the various works, identities and legacies of artist Osvaldo Romberg


Fields of Knowledge
  • Artistic legacies
  • Curatorial practice
  • Philosophy / Theory

Organizing Institutions



Aaron Levy, Jean-Michel Rabaté

Opens to public



University of Pennsylvania


25% Formal - 75% Informal

After Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Kosuth has suggested, the 'value' of artists will be assessed only by what they have added to the conception of art. He writes: "With the unassisted Readymade, art changed its focus from the form of the language to what was being said. [...] This change – one from 'appearance' to 'conception' – was the beginning of 'modern' art and the beginning of 'conceptual' art." The concepts a work sets in motion assume the importance previously held by material alone. The function of art approaches the status of a question.

Artist Osvaldo Romberg's own conceptual approach, and his continued commitment to raising critical questions about the role and place of art in society, will be the subject of a one-day conference on Friday, March 23, 2001, organized by Slought. A selection of works by the artist will frame the conference proceedings. The program will include screenings of films, the artist speaking about his work, and curators, academics, and critics delivering short presentations – all followed by open discussion between the participants and the audience.

In Osvaldo Romberg's Periodic Table, Gregory Flaxman will address the subjective nature of any classification, reminding us that Romberg's 'scientific' strategy exhausts itself, revealing science itself to be a simulacrum, an invention. Reinaldo Ladagga, in Clusters of grapes, snow, tobacco, veins of metal, water vapor..., will situate Romberg alongside Argentinean artists such as Juan Rodolfo Wilcock, Raúl Damonte, and Mauricio Kagel. Romberg's 'anti-egotism' will be the subject of Jean-Michel Rabate's O.R. We will never regret anything. His selfless reconciliation of creativity and critical intelligence, he will argue, is a potential remedy to the narcissism of post-modern sensibilities. Finally, Robert Mahoney, in Art in the nth degree revisited: World Space, will address the relation of temporality to history in contemporary art. Romberg, he argues, constructs highly abstract if layered fields of meaning that incorporate the past into the present.

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Osvaldo Romberg, an internationally renowned artist, was born in Buenos Aires in 1938. He is currently professor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Select exhibition venues include: Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna; Kunstmuseum, Bonn; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Sudo Museum, Tokyo; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Jewish Museum, New York; and the XLI Venice Biennial, Israel Pavilion. He has curated widely, including shows on Faith at the Aldrich Museum and another on Urbanism at White Box, New York.

"In some way (we must try) to sense again the pleasure of painting, to paint the painting, to try to define again and again in each work, what is the essence of painting. Art is unverifiable, we can merely approach it through exercises, which sometimes surmount their own limits and provides us with a mystique of expression if we are artists, and a mystique of perception if we are observers." - Osvaldo Romberg, 1974

"I must say that I tried to be an artist since the very early days of my youth. I felt this strong desire to be one. But I think the moment I felt I might really be an artist was when some seven years ago my colleagues and some critics and curators started looking at my work saying: Does he really think what he is doing is art?" -Osvaldo Romberg, Interview with Dieter Ronte, 1981