Luis Felipe Noé was born on May 26 in Buenos Aires, the son of Julio Noé and Beba Ruiz.
He entered the Law School of the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) and the painting studio of the master Horacio Butler, who instructed him for a year and a half. In 1955, he gave up law study and began to work at the newspaper El Mundo, where, the following year, he wrote art criticism. Until 1961, he also worked for the politics sections of the periodicals El Nacional, La Razón and La Prensa. After a honeymoon trip with Nora Murphy to the Quebrada de Humahuaca [Jujuy, Argentina] in 1957, he published, in the magazine El Hogar, an article, both written and drawn, giving his visual impressions of that landscape.
This marked his début as a draughtsman. This same year, he exhibited a painting at the National Fine Arts Salon (Salón Nacional de Bellas Artes).
In 1959, he had his first solo exhibition, at Galería Witcomb. The opening was the occasion for a budding friendship with Alberto Greco, Rómulo Macció and Jorge de la Vega.
In 1960 – the year in which his daughter Paula was born – his father offered him as a studio a section of what had been the hat factory his grandfather founded, located on Avenida Independencia, between the streets Bolívar and Defensa. Greco and Macció soon set up there as well, taking advantage of the large available space, and in this setting De la Vega occasionally painted some large works.
In this year, Noé had two exhibitions, one in Galería Kalá and the other in the first two rooms of Galería Van Riel. In 1961, the daily newspaper La Nación, in its Sunday rotogravure, published a piece about the atelier on Independencia and its protagonists.
In May of this year, Noé organized his fourth show in Bonino Gallery, where he presented the Serie Federal [Federal Series] on 19th-century Argentine history. Also in 1961, Noé proposed to his friends that they organize an exhibition that could move beyond the divide between abstract and figurative artists. The intent was not to form a group, but rather to create a movement. With this goal in mind, Macció, De la Vega and Noé invited Deira, as well as the figurative photographer and abstract painter Sameer Makarius and the painter Carolina Muchnik. Thus Salón Peuser became the setting for the exhibition Otra figuración [Another Figuration].
Yet at the same time, they had called on various other artists, who preferred not to take part, some as abstract and others as figurative. Nevertheless, shortly thereafter, they all made works linked to this plan, which some critics called neofigurative or New Figuration. When the exhibition ended, De la Vega and Noé (the latter, with a fellowship from the French government) left on a boat headed to Europe. Later, Nora Murphy and her daughter Paula traveled to Paris, as did Macció and Deira.
There it became clear to them that the four of them made up a group and that, in the future, they would exhibit each on his own with their own names: Deira, Macció, Noé and De la Vega, who came last in alphabetical order because, he argued, his real last name was “Vega”.
Noé took to its limits his conception of cuadro dividido [divided painting] or visión quebrada [split vision] with his work Mambo, now in the collection of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
The four artists returned to Buenos Aires and set up in a new studio, where Deira had previously worked. It was located on the street Carlos Pellegrini, between Charcas (today, Marcelo T. de Alvear) and Avenida Santa Fe.
They soon prepared two exhibitions. The first one, of drawings, was held at Galería Lirolay, with the title Esto [This], referring to the Argentina they had found on their return, after the fall of president Arturo Frondizi and the showdown between blue (or legalistas) and (colorados) military men “of another color.” The latter show was organized at Galería Bonino. On the strength of its repercussions, Alfredo Bonino, the owner of the space, invited them to extend the show, but the artists proposed exhibiting new works. For this reason, the show had two phases. On this occasion, Jorge Romero Brest, director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, invited them to exhibit there the following year.
This was a fundamental year for the group, since, in addition to the show in the Museum, they were invited to take part in the Di Tella Prize: Macció received the International Prize and Noé was awarded the National. For this reason, the Instituto Di Tella acquired his work Introducción a la esperanza [Introduction to Hope], later donated to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Furthermore, the four exhibited at the National Commission of Fine Arts in Montevideo and at the Bonino Gallery in Rio de Janeiro. About this exhibition, the Brazilian critic Frederico Morais pointed out that it “had an unforgettable impact on Rio’s young generation”.
At the end of the year, his son Gaspar was born.
The Di Tella Prize Noé had won consisted of a grant to travel to the destination of his choice. He chose New York, a city in which he lived beween April and December 1964, and in which he shared a studio with Liliana Porter, the Uruguayan Luis Camnitzer and the Venezuelan Gabriel Morera. He was invited to an international seminar for artists at Fairleigh Dickinson Univertisty, in New Jersey.
His stay in New York coincided with the exhibition Guggenheim International Award, held in the Guggenheim Museum. The four artists had been invited by its curator, Lawrence Alloway. The artist awarded its major prize was Alberto Giacometti. On this occasion, the U.S. institution purchased Noé’s work Carisma (1963). The Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis, organized another exhibition of Argentine art. The New York Times critic John Canaday wrote: “A quarter of the exhibition – a high percentage – shows that, in one aspect, Argentina can find the national identity that its artists are searching for. A new Argentine group, ‘the neofiguratives,’ steal the show.”
Edited by Galería Van Riel, Noé published his first book, Antiestética – in the pages of which he presents his thesis on chaos as structure – which was presented during the exhibition Noé + experiencias colectivas [Noé + Collective Experiences/Experiments] at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. In this show were exhibited, in addition to a large “chaotic installation” titled Así es la vida señorita [That’s life miss] and other pieces such as Vernissage, works by Noé juxtaposed with others by different artists, which were united among them by opposition and contrast. Participating were Enrique Barilari, Deira, De la Vega, Fernando Maza and Roberto Aizenberg. Also included was another large installation composed of the accumulation of single works by the above- mentioned artists, plus Florencio Méndez Casariego, Ricardo Carreira, Miguel Dávila, Roberto Jacoby, Estela Newbery, Pérez Celis, Pablo Suárez and Luis Wells.
Galería Bonino was the site of the group’s last exhibition, in which Deira exhibited his large mural Nueve variaciones para un bastidor bien tensado [Nine Variations for a Very Taut Stretcher], while De la Vega and Noé showed installations: Nigromante [Necromancer], by the former, and El ser nacional [National Being] by the latter. Macció, who was in Europe, sent two large- format paintings.
At the end of this year, after receiving a Guggenheim Grant, Noé left with his family for New York.
In January he exhibited at Bonino Gallery in New York. The show included, among other pieces, three installations: the first he made in this city, in 1964, entitled Introducción al desmadre [Introduction to Mess]; the one he had exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art but with a title translated as That’s life, miss, and a third, called Balance 1965-4/1965, in which were juxtaposed works composed during his previous stay in New York. After this show, Noé stopped painting for nine years. He later wrote of this decision: “Having reached this limit, with works that could not be transported or stored, and beyond this feeling that I wasn’t putting in fragments of reality, since all the arts were united by my expressive charge, I left painting in order to look for some surrounding path that might objectively reflect that chaos through concave mirrors.” He made these mirrors in a studio he was sharing with De la Vega.
In May, he wrote for El Mirador – a publication of the Interamerican Foundation for the Arts – the article En la sociedad pop la vanguardia no está en las galerías de arte [In Pop Society the Avant-Garde Isn’t in Art Galleries]. At the end of the year, he was awarded another Guggenheim grant.
He began to write his book El arte entre la tecnología y la rebelión [Art between Technology and Rebellion], which he finished three years later, though he decided not to publish it: “Deep down, I had doubts about its more categorical conclusions. Above all, the assertion that art dissolves into social life.” Nonetheless, further on, he used various of the analyses included in this volume. Antonio Berni exhibited in New York. During his stay, De la Vega and Noé saw him every day. De la Vega returned to Buenos Aires.
For the second time, Noé took part as a guest of an international artists’ seminar organized by Fairleigh Dickinson University. At the end of the year, he moved from Greenwich Village to 102nd St. and Broadway, near the Hudson River. He traveled to the Venezuelan beach Azul to take part in a gathering of artists and intellectuals from the USA and Latin America organized by the Interamerican Foundation for the Arts.
Now without a fellowship but with a residency permit for another twelve months, he received a guarantee from the New York School for Social Research and began to work in a program within the so-called “War on Poverty” – which John F. Kennedy had launched – as director of a Hispanic Cultural Center located in a mainly Puerto Rican neighborhood. This institution was an offshoot of Mobilization.
In May, he presented an environment with concave mirrors at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas. There he learned of the events taking place in Paris. In October, he returned to Buenos Aires, yet before doing so, he dismantled all his installations, given the complexity of transporting them. The only one extant, albeit with some of its pieces replaced, is El ser nacional [National Being], from 1965, because it had not been moved to the United States.
He received honorable mention in the International Printmaking Biennial in Tokyo.
Noé proposed to a group of people setting up a bar-café, a “closed shop” decorated with restaurant furniture. De la Vega suggested the name it received: Bárbaro (barbarous, but also in colloquial Argentine Spanish “great!” –trans.). It opened on October 5, exactly ten years after his first exhibition. A pioneering venture in the later development of calle Reconquista, this bar was the meeting place for the leading players in the culture of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Noé was linked to it for 30 years.
At the same time as the Bárbaro was inaugurated, he had an exhibition in Galería Carmen Waugh, Saldos-Liquidación por cambio de ramo [Liquidation Sale, for Change of Location], with paintings from the 1960-’65 period.
He published a book of phrases about Argentina, Una sociedad colonial avanzada [An Advanced Colonial Society], which he had begun in New York. He also opened a restaurant across from the Bárbaro, La Jamonería de Vieytes, which stayed in business for just a year.
Although at the outset he was quite pleased with his period of not painting, convinced that artistic activity was dissolving into social life, by 1971 he sensed he had been mistaken. This led him to go into therapy with Dr. Gilberto Simoes. In his sessions, while he spoke, he would draw. Thus began, with drawing, his route back to painting, which he resumed four years later. At any rate, in 1971, he organized the exhibition El placer de pintar [The Pleasure of Painting], with the idea of emphasizing the most abiding aspects of this discipline over the centuries – not the eternity of the work and its importance, but merely the pleasure of painting. On this occasion, he wrote: “Since today the creative adventure is becoming more and more collective, the object of show is to stress the overall pleasure of painting.” This same year Jorge de la Vega died, an event which had a great impact on Noé.
At the Instituto de Arte of the Universidad de Chile, he held an exhibition of banners with phrases on them; the general title was The Art of Latin America Is the Revolution.
The Bárbaro had various partners, and the profits had to be shared among them. Noé decided on a new venture: to teach painting. He did so between 1971 and 1973, at the Escuela Panamericana de Arte. In 1972, he traveled to Chile and, the following year, to Cuba, to take part in artists’ congresses. In 1973, he was designated as a comptroller in the Art History program at the Department of Philosophy and Letters, a position he held for a year. Between 1973 and 1976, he devoted himself to his teaching activity in his new live-in studio, located at the corner of avenues Pueyrredón and Corrientes.
Ediciones de la Flor, a publishing house in Buenos Aires, released a novel written and illustrated with drawings by Noé, with the (untranslatable) punning title Códice rompecabezas sobre recontrapoder en cajón desastre.
He went back to painting with an exhibition in Galería Carmen Waugh, where he showed two series: La naturaleza y los mitos [Nature and Myths] and Conquista y violación de la naturaleza [Conquest and Rape of Nature]. For the catalogue, he wrote a text titled Por qué pinté lo que pinté, no pinté lo que no pinté, y pinto ahora lo que pinto [Why I Painted What I Painted, Didn’t Paint What I Didn’t Paint, and Am Painting What I’m Painting].
After Argentina’s coup d’état in 1976, Noé, in late May, left for Paris. Despite this, he sent from the French capital works for a new exhibition at Galería Carmen Waugh. The core of the show consisted of three large-format paintings titled Esto no tiene nombre [This Has No Name] (which did not mean “untitled,” but rather alluded to the situation then at home).
In January 1977, Noé was reunited with his family. He resumed teaching painting in his apartment- studio and at Peuple et Culture, an organization that trained socio-cultural workers. In this period, he had two solo exhibitions in Paris (at the gallery Maitre Albert, in 1977, and the gallery L’Oeil en Boeuf, in 1978), one in Madrid (Galería Durba, in 1978), another in New York and three in Buenos Aires (Galería Balmaceda, in 1977, and Arte Múltiple, in 1978 and 1979), the city to which he traveled once a year starting in 1978.
En route to Paris, he stopped for three weeks in the Amazon region, invited by a Brazilian friend, the poet Thiago de Melo. He began a series inspired by this landscape, which he concluded in 1985. Nevertheless, during this phase, he also composed works nostalgic for the games he played in his period of above-mentioned installations, only this time, he aimed to keep them. The most characteristic work of that moment was made in 1982, in Porter’s studio in New York, when Noé had traveled to exhibit in the New York Studio School. This is Estructura para un paisaje [Structure for a Landscape], in which he wagers on joining together his two investigations of the moment (the installations and the rhythm of the landscape).
In this year, he had traveled to Mexico City to take part in a meeting for visual artists on identity in Latin America, organized by the Contemporary Art Forum (Foro de Arte Contemporáneo). There, he presented a long text, “The Nostalgia for History in the Process of Visual Imagination in Latin America.” In 1981, his mother died, and in 1983, his father. In this year, he purchased his house in Buenos Aires on Tacuarí street, where he has lived since 1987. In this period, he showed in Paris (Espace Latino- américain, in 1981, and Gallerie Bellechase, in 1984), in Buenos Aires (at the galleries Arte Nuevo and Alberto Elía, both in 1981, Ruth Benzacar, 1985, and at the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Rosa Galisteo de Rodríguez, in Santa Fe).
He won the prize of the Fundación Fortabat with the work Recuerdo del diluvio [Memory of the Flood]. While he was in Buenos Aires, in Paris his great friend Ernesto Deira died: he had lived with him for years in that city.
He returned for good to Buenos Aires. He organized a selection of his oeuvre at the Museo de Artes Plásticas Eduardo Sívori and, at the same time, at Galería Ruth Benzacar. In addition, he created a quadriptch, installed as a mural for the Museo de San Ignacio Miní in Misiones.
The firm Alba published a book on Noé’s works, written by Mercedes Casanegra.
He exhibited at Gooijer Fine Art Galerie, in Amsterdam, Holland, and at Galería Arte Actual in Santiago, Chile.
He showed his works at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia; at Galería Camino Brent, in Lima, Peru; in Galería Ruth Benzacar, in Buenos Aires; and at Benzacar’s stand at the art fair Arco, in Madrid, Spain.
He had four exhibitions: Galería Jaime Conci, in Córdoba, Argentina; Galería Expresiones in Guayaquil, Ecuador; at the Centro de Artes Visuales Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, in Asunción, Paraguay; and at the Casa del Ángel, in Buenos Aires.
He exhibited his works, again, in Bogotá (Galería Diners), in Santiago, Chile (Galería Plástica Nueva) and Guayaquil, Ecuador (Galería Expresiones). In Buenos Aires, he presented Sala de situación [Situation Room] at the Centro Cultural Recoleta.
With the series Jeroglíficos de las Cavernas de Buenos Aires [Hieroglyphs from the Caves of BA], he began a set of exhibitions with the same name. He published his written and drawn portfolio on the discovery of America, A Oriente por Occidente [To the East from the West] (Ediciones Dos, Bogotá, Colombia). He also showed at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Cuenca, Ecuador, and at the Centro Cultural de la Universidad Nacional de Tucumán.
At the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAyC), directed by Jorge Glusberg, he had the show Lectura conceptual de una trayectoria [Conceptual Reading of a Career]. For this occasion, a booklet was published with that title, written jointly by Glusberg and Noé.
He exhbited again at Galería Expresiones in Guayaquil.
He presented Instauración institucional [Establishment of an Institution], after 28 years without making installations, in an exhibition devoted to the theme organized by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, curated by Jorge Glusberg. Today, this work belongs to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. He illustrated a book of phrases by various authors on the love relations between men and women, titled El otro, la otra y la otredad [Male Other, Female Other, and Otherness], published by IMPSAT as a business gift.
He exhibited in the Teatro Auditorium in Mar del Plata and received the Diploma of Merit of the Fundación Konex, in the category Ensayo de Arte Argentino [Essay on Argentine Art].
He had two retrospectives. The first, at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, was held in 1995; the second, at the Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes in Mexico City in 1996. He showed in 1995 at La Galería, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and at the Museo Municipal de Artes Visuales de Santa Fe.
He presented simultaneously at the Centro Cultural Borges and at Galería Rubbers a series titled Errores, omisiones y otras desprolijidades [Errors, Omissions and Other Bits of Sloppiness]. This experiment was exhibited in Pinamar and Mar del Plata, and at the Museo Provincial Emilio A. Caraffa, in Córdoba, the following year.
In recognition of his career, he received the Grand Prize of the National Arts Fund (Fondo Nacional de las Artes).
He was guest of honor at the Salón de Artes Visuales de Santa Fe, Argentina.
He had the exhibitions Noé, at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Bahía Blanca, and Pinturas [Paintings] 1995-1998, at the Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno in Mendoza.
At the Centro Cultural Borges, with support from the Fondo Nacional de las Artes and the Fundación Antorchas, he organized the space Ojo al País [“Eye on the Country,” or “Watch Out for This Country”], to present artists from other provinces in Argentina. This venture continued until 2002, and comprised 30 shows. In 1999, he participated at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in the group exhibition Identidad, sponsored by the Asociación Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo [the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo]; together with other colleagues he began to participate in the group Artistas Plásticos Solidarios [Visual Artists in Solidarity]. Recuerdos del diluvio en tiempos de descuento [Memories of the Flood in Times of Discount] was shown at Galería Rubbers in Buenos Aires. He exhibited, with Jorge Demirjian and Carlos Gorriarena, at Bryggens Museum, in Bergen, Norway.
Starting in this year, at Galería Rubbers, he organized exhibitions with titles identifying the series: Paisajes Humanos [Human Landscapes] (2001), Descalabros varios [Various Disasters] (2002), Crujidos [Rustlings/ Creakings] (2003), Dispersiones entrecruzadas [Intersecting Dispersions] (2004), Emergencias [Emergences/Emergencies] (2005), ¿Qué? [What?] (2006), ¿Noemas o Noesis? [Noemas or Noeses?] (2008), Sin embargo [Nevertheless] (2011).
The publishing house Adriana Hidalgo published El arte en cuestión [Art in Question], a book of conversations between the conceptual artist Horacio Zabala and Noé. At the International Art Biennial, held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, he received the prize for the Argentina section for his installation Reflexiones con texto y fuera de contexto [Reflections with Text and out of Context]. He took part in Heterotopías. Medio siglo sin-lugar [Heterotopias: A Place- Less Half- Century] 1918-1968, organized at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid.
He received the Rosario Prize 2000, from the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Juan B. Castagnino.
He was awarded First Prize for Painting at the Salón Manuel Belgrano and, for his career, the Konex Prize for Brilliance in the Visual Arts. He also received the 53rd Michetti-La città e le nuvole Prize: Italy-Argentina, of the Museo Michetti, Francavilla al Mare (Italy).
He curated the exhibition Pintura sin pintura [Painting without Painting] held at the Centro Cultural de España in Buenos Aires.
The poetry magazine Malvario published the notebook Wittgenstein: este es el caso [W: This Is the Case] based on a speech Noé wrote in 2000.
He was declared Distinguished Citizen by the Legislature of the City of Buenos Aires, a title he received the following year.
Between 2006 and 2014, together with Eduardo Stupía, he directed a project dedicated to drawing called La línea piensa [The Line Thinks] at the Centro Cultural Borges, in which they held over a hundred exhibitions. He showed at the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes Genaro Pérez, in Córdoba.
The publishing house Adriana Hidalgo brought out his book Noescritos sobre eso que se llama arte [Noé/Non-Writings on What Is Called Art] gathering togethering essays he wrote over forty years. For this book he received the Miguel Briante Prize for Criticism from the Asociación Argentina e Internacional de Críticos de Arte.
The Argentine Chancellery and curator Fabián Lebenglik chose him to represent Argentina in the 53th Venice Biennale.
He took part in the Venice Biennale representing Argentina. His works on view there – La estática velocidad [Static Speed] and Nos estamos entendiendo [We’re Getting Along Together], gathered together under the name Red [Network] – were exhibited in this year at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
He was awarded the Premio Homenaje [Homage Prize] of Argentina’s Central Bank, and the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes published the book En el nombre de Noé [In Name of Noé], written by Noé Jitrik and illustrated by the artist himself. He also had a panoramic survey show at Galería Rubbers in commemoration of the fifty years since his first solo exhibition. For this occasion the show was accompanied by the catalogue 50 x 50, presenting fifty works created in the same number of years. He received the Homage Prize of Argentina’s Central Bank.
He toured Argentina with his exhibition RED, which was on view at the Museo Castagnino+macro, in Rosario; at the Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Emilio Caraffa, in Córdoba, and at the Centro Cultural José Amadeo Conte Grand, in San Juan. The works included in this show were also exhibited on the occasion of Noé’s retrospective at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Rio de Janeiro between December 2010 and February 2011. In coordination with this show, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes organized a show in homage to the Nueva Figuración group.
With Stupía, Noé held an exhibition of drawings “by four hands,” Me arruinaste el dibujo [You Wrecked My Drawing], which traveled to various provinces in Argentina. He also showed work of his, under the title Sin embargo [None the Less], at Galería Rubbers.
His spouse Nora Murphy died.
He had two solo exhibitions: Noé. Visiones / re-visiones, at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, and En consecuencia at Galería Rubbers.
He was guest of honor at the 20th International Biennial in Curitiba, Brazil.
With his children Paula and Gaspar, he held the exhibition NOE 3D, in homage to his wife.
He had a series of exhibitions titled Noé Siglo XXI [21st Century Noé], dedicated to his works within that period. Two were held in Brazil (Museo Brasileño de Escultura, in San Pablo, and Museo Nacional de la República, in Brasilia), one in Buenos Aires (Fundación Fortabat) and one in Uruguay (Fundación Unión, in Montevideo) in 2015.
An exhibition was held dedicated to his political works, Olfato en tiempo y lugar [A Nose for Time and Place], at the Centro Cultural de la Memoria Haroldo Conti, in Buenos Aires.
He published his book Mi viaje-Cuaderno de Bitácora [My Journey-Logbook] with the publishing house El Ateneo; it consists of two volumes: the first, Mi viaje, offers a photographic survey of his works, and the second, Cuaderno de Bitácora, presents a chronological narrative of his artistic career and his life.
He exhibited in Argentina (Galería Rubbers, Buenos Aires) and in Uruguay (Galería Sur, Punta del Este).
In the space La Tribu the show Memoria del presente [Memory of the Present] was organized, combining works by Noé with texts by Vicente Zito Lema.
Luis Felipe Noé. Mirada prospectiva [LFN: A Forward Gaze] is held at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.