Eduardo Costa (Buenos Aires, 1940), an avant-garde, conceptual artist, first developed the series of works known as Volumetric Paintings, term coined by Carter Ratcliff, in New York in 1994. The creation of this new genre came about after he opened a jar of yellow acrylic paint, the lid of which had been loose for years. With a dry chunk of paint in his hands, Costa thought about whether he was actually seeing an abstract three-dimensional painting or was it a sculpture made of paint. His first intentional volumetric painting, a lemon on a saucer, was made by successively overlapping layers of acrylic paint on both halves on the inside of a negative mold of the fruit. When the molds were full of dry paint Costa glued them together with more paint and the lemon, after minor retouching, came into fruition. Bigger fruits like squash and watermelons were then followed by head portraits, various household objects and abstract geometric pieces.

With his Volumetric Paintings, the artist accurately depicts the inside of the various works as well, even if hidden to the viewer. The interior space of a painting of a green watermelon, for example, had to be whitish near the rind and reddish towards the center representing the pulp, with black dots representing seeds, thus a new space enters art history. The head portraits had to have the bones, brain and tongue also represented inside. The abstract monochromes, on the other hand, had to be the same color throughout, presenting the first authentic monochrome works, differing from works that are just superficially monochromatic with the same color merely on the surface of a canvas or other supporting  structure.

Costa noticed that viewers, mystified as to how the volumetric paintings could actually exist, conjured explanations that led them to believe that those paintings had an inner core made up of a different material and not, in fact, made entirely out of paint. In order to dispel this perception, the artist presented a series of didactic performances. In The Biology of Painting (2004), presented at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Buenos Aires, Costa cut open some paintings of fruits, a head portrait, eggs, and large geometric works. The audience, aware in theory of the work´s character, was nevertheless very surprised to see the paintings' interiors. A video of this performance will be featured during the exhibition at Henrique Faria Fine Art.

Other works in this exhibition represent Costa's Link Pieces consisting of works that are halfway between the flat and volumetric styles and include Oblique Black and White Painting, a 24 7/8 by 17 in. rectangle made only of acrylic paint that is 1 in. thick and rests on a shelf and Homage to Cruz Diez, a conventional white canvas featuring small, colored cylinders of paint jutting out from a white plane. Costa entered the art world in 1966 when, together with Raúl Escari and Roberto Jacoby, he wrote Un arte de los medios de comunicación (Mass media art). In the same year, he created his Fashion Fiction series and this very early media intervention was featured in several pages of Vogue, Harper´s Bazaar, The New York Times and on television. He also created The Fashion Show Poetry Event (with John Perreault and Hannah Weiner, 1969), a social sculpture which included garments by Warhol, Rosenquist, Oldenburg, Marjorie Strider, Alex Katz, and others, Useful Art (with Scott Burton), Tape Poems (with Perreault) Street Works (with Marjorie Strider, Perreault, and Vito Acconci), and other milestones of the American avant-garde movement.

In 1971, Costa returned to Argentina and then moved to Río de Janeiro where he continued his work in contact with a group formed by Helio Oiticica. In 1981, he returned to New York and in the early ’90s he began writing for the magazines Flash Art and Art in America.


Costa's work is represented in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna, Río de Janeiro; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Museo Nacional de BellasArtes, Buenos Aires; Jumex Collection, Mexico DF; Colección Banco Mercantil, Caracas, and other institutional collections. His work has been exhibited at The New Museum, New York; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; The List Art Center, Boston; Malba, Buenos Aires; The Miami Art Museum and the Museu de Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo.