Sarah Grilo is a major figure of Latin-American art of the second half of the 20th Century.
She was born in 1919 in Buenos Aires, where she first studied painting with the Spanish painter Vicente Puig. She lived in France and England and, after obtaining the JS Guggenheim Foundation scholarship in 1962, moved to New York. In 1970 she moved to Spain, where she lived until her death in 2007.
In 1952 she formed The Group of Modern Artists together with Tomás Maldonado, Enio Iommi, José Antonio Fernández Muro and Lidy Prati, among others. The group held exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro and the Stedelijk Art Museum in Amsterdam before its dissolution in 1957.
Grilo moved to New York City in 1962 upon receiving a J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship, and it was at this point that her work took a radical turn. Grilo broke from her background in Concrete abstraction, and began to incorporate—through her own unconscious formal means—the urban references that surrounded her: from the graffiti that ran rampant throughout the city’s walls, to the traces of letters, numbers, and symbols in various fonts and typographies that peeled off the posters plastered around the city streets. Grilo’s appropriations during her stay in 1960s New York continued to define her work over the course of the remaining decades, all while maintaining an acute sensibility to color in her highly lyrical and gestural compositions. Grilo’s works then and in the proceeding decades, all sustained a hyper-chromatic sensibility as manifested by her use of saturations of various tonalities and hues.
Her work has been the subject of a number of one-man shows in the US, Latin America and Europe: at the National Fine Arts Museum in Buenos Aires, the Fine Arts Museum in Caracas, the Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo of Lima, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in Miami, the American Art Museum in Washington DC, the Nelson Rockefeller Collection in New York, the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid and the Institude of Fine Arts In New York. In 2017, Grilo’s work featured in the “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction” exhibition at the MoMA in New York.