The Havana-based collective Los Carpinteros (The Carpenters) have created some of the most important work to emerge from Latin America in the past decade. Formed in 1992 (Marco Castillo, Dagoberto Rodríguez, and, until his departure in June 2003, Alexandre Arrechea), Los Carpinteros adopted their name in 1994, deciding to renounce the notion of individual authorship and refer back to an older guild tradition of artisans and skilled laborers. Interested in the intersection between art and society, their oeuvre occupies an intriguing and ambiguous space between conceptualism, activism and formalism. Merging architecture, design, and sculpture in unexpected and often playful ways, their elegant and mordantly humorous work negotiates between the functional and the nonfunctional, drawing inspiration from the physical world—particularly that of architectural constructions. Their carefully crafted drawings and installations use wit to exploit a visual syntax that sets up contradictions between object and function as well as practicality and uselessness.
For Los Carpinteros, drawing has played an integral role as a mock technical draft or blueprint, suggesting not only a process of artistic elaboration but also as architectural or carpentry plans.
Los Carpinteros’ works are part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the TATE Gallery, London; the Museo de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; the Thyssen-Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation, Vienna, Austria; the Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. They have been the subject of worldwide solo exhibitions at institutions such as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico; Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art, London, England; Matadero, Madrid, Spain; Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany; Kunstmuseum Thun, Switzerland; Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and Es Baluard: Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Palma, Mallorca, Spain. They have participated in group exhibitions at the Albertina, Vienna; New Museum, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art in General, New York; Artists Space, New York; Arizona State University, Pheonix, Arizona; Hayward Gallery, UK; and the Helsinki Art Museum, Finland. Free Basket, a site-specific commission by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010, is permanently installed in the 100 Acres Park on the museum’s grounds. During Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012, Los Carpinteros presented, Güiro, a highly acclaimed art bar installation produced in collaboration with Absolut Art Bureau. The artists collaborated with Luminato Festival 2014, Toronto, with an installation titled Cardboard beach. In 2014, Museum Folkwang in Essen commissioned Los Carpinteros to create Yelmo, an installation currently on view in the Museum’s permanent collection. Yelmo offers a new place for and a new way of presenting the Archaeology, Global Art and Applied Arts Collection started by Karl Ernst Osthaus. In 2015, the V&A commissioned the artists to create a permanent contemporary installation for the Museum’s new Europe 1600-1815 galleries. Charged with devising a large-scale, imaginative and thought-provoking piece that would sit within the gallery examining the Enlightenment, Los Carpinteros created The Globe, a curved architectural sculpture made from a lattice of engineered beech that will form a ‘room within a room’ currently on view at the heart of the new Europe displays.
Los Carpinteros live and work in Madrid, Spain and Havana, Cuba. For more information, please visit loscarpinteros.net.
Faena Group, Tide by Side: An Artistic Processional Performance, November 27, 2016
Interview with Los Carpinteros at Museo MARCO (in Spanish, with English subtitles)
The Globe by Los Carpinteros at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2015)
Los Carpinteros talk about Free Basket in the Indianapolis Museum of Art's 100 Acres Art and Nature Park