"Gego" Gertrude Louise Goldschmidt Biography

"Gego" Gertrude Louise Goldschmidt

Latin American



Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt also known as “Gego” from childhood, was born on August 1, 1912 in Hamburg, Germany. She was educated at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, acquiring a degree in architecture in 1938.

Her German citizenship was nullified in 1935 and to escape the increasing anti-Semitism in her home country, she emigrated to Caracas, Venezuela in 1939, where she worked as a freelance architect and industrial designer until the mid-1940s and becoming a citizen in 1952. In 1953, she moved to the coastal town of Tarma and began her artistic work, producing drawings, watercolors, monotypes and xylographs; the majority of these early works were figurative and expressionist. She returned to Caracas in 1956, and there, using pure abstraction as her starting point, she began to address problems of sculptural space in her work; in 1957, along with artists Carlos Cruz-Diez, Alejandro Otero, and Jesús-Rafael Soto, Gego participated in the exhibition Arte abstracto en Venezuela.

By 1959, the Museum of Modern Art in New York had begun to acquire her work; she moved to New York in 1960 and remained in the United States until 1967.

Gego taught at the school of architecture of the Universidad Central de Venezuela and at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas Cristóbal Rojas. Her first individual show was held at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas in 1961; in 1962 she installed a sculpture at the headquarters of the Banco Industrial de Venezuela. She helped found the Instituto de Diseño Neumann in Caracas where she taught from 1964 to 1977. In 1969, with Gerd Leufert, she completed murals for the headquarters of the Instituto Nacional de Cooperación Educativa (INCE).

Gego met Venezuelan urban planner Ernst Gunz at the architectural firm where she worked with other architects to design the Los Caobos housing estate for Luis Roche. They married in October 1940 and opened a furniture studio called ‘Gunz’, where Gego designed lamps and wooden furniture. Together the couple had Tomás (b. 1942) and Barbara (b. 1944). Gego closed Gunz in 1944 in order to spend more time with her children. By 1948 she returned to designing private homes, nightclubs and restaurants. In 1951 she separated from Ernst Gunz, and in 1952 met artist and graphic designer Gerd Leufert. Gego and Leufert remained partners for life.

Her interest in lithographs, intaglios and etching led to artists' books, such as Autobiography of a Line, 1965

From the 1970s to the 1980s she completed important, architecturally integrated sculpture for public buildings, residences, and shopping malls. In 1972, for example, she constructed Cuerdas (Cords), a sculpture-installation consisting of suspended nylon and stainless steel strips, for the Parque Central architectonic complex in Caracas.

Gego eventually began to use random procedures and “found” materials such as industrial scraps and metals. Her series of suspended sculptures Dibujos sin papel (Drawings without Paper) and her series Bichos (Creatures) also date from the 1980s, as does her Reticulárea ambiental. Her last, extremely significant work was Tejeduras (Weavings), in which small fields of orthogonal lines were interwoven with strips of paper.

Gego died on September 17, 1994 in Caracas, Venezuela.