Featured Acquisition: Lucero Isaac, “Pomp and Cire-Perdue”


Lucero Isaac (b. 1936)
Pomp and Cire-Perdue, 1990
mixed media collage 
23.25 x 23.25 x 5 inches  
Provenance: Elizabeth Boeckman, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lucero Isaac is a Mexican postwar and contemporary set designer, dancer, film art director and plastic artist,  who was born in 1936.

Born in Mexico City, Isaac began her professional life as a dancer. 

In 1964 she began her career as an art director for film and theater with the production and direction of her husband Alberto Isaac, with a story by Gabriel García Márquez (“In this Town There Are No Thieves”).  

From 1964 to the late 1980s, she worked as an art director and production designer in film. Her responsibilities included everything from sets to costumes and make-up; often she was called upon to produce the texture and feeling of past eras by recreating objects and details specific to a particular time and place. 

As an art director she worked on films directed by Isaac, Arturo Ripstein, Jaime Humberto Hermosillo, Juan Manuel Torres, Claudio Isaac, Sergio Olhovich, Juan Luis Buñuel, Maurice Ronet, Juan López Moctezuma, Miguel Littin, Rafael Castanedo, Felipe Cazals, Juan García, Pedro Torres, and Costa Gavras. She created costume designs for  Diana Bracho, Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine Chaplin, Max Von Sydow, Peter O´Toole, Jorge Luke, Helena Rojo, and María Rojo, among others, and won Academy Award nominations for her work.

 At the end of 1987, disillusioned by poor scripts and dwindling budgets, she left film to devote herself full-time to sculpture; her boxes and assemblages are a natural development from her earlier work as a set designer.

Within a year, Isaac held her first exhibition (at the Galería Honfleur in Mexico City). A series of one-person exhibitions followed in rapid succession: “Letters That Never Arrived and Other Things” (1989), “Night Peoples’ Theater” and Night People’s Theater II” (1991 and 1992), and “Forsaken Dreams” (1994). Her work quickly attracted an international audience and has been included in a number of major exhibitions, among them “Women in Mexico,” organized by the National Academy of Design in New York and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey, Mexico (1990-91) (which also travelled to the Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City), The Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, Australia (1992) , and “Latin America and Surrealism” (1993) at the Museum of Bochum, Germany.

Isaac often mingles personal mementos –a piece of jewelry, a love letter– with historical artifacts; the result is a frisson of recognition as we confront the: relics of lives unknown, but nevertheless startlingly familiar. The preciosity, even pomposity of objects endowed with public and historical significance becomes an occasion for gentle satire in Pomp and Cire Perdue. Here a melange of political and military “medals” and ribbons fashioned from cigar rings, the tops of enameled tea tins, and the insignia of champagne bottles and corks,creates a witty send-up of those ubiquitous bronze public monuments and memorials created using the so-called “lost wax” technique.

Isaac has always been interested in the intuitive sparks that fly between kindred souls. She credits her son Claudio, who has worked as a writer, painter, and film director, with having been her greatest influence. There has existed between them a rich exchange of images and ideas, a mirroring of the creative process, which often extends to his supplying titles for her works. With Claudio, as with Marquez, Carrington, and the other artists, writers, and filmakers with whom she has shared her creative life, Isaac has set about teasing the Marvelous out of everyday reality.

Sources include : Whitney Chadwick , “Latin American Art”, San Francisco, July 1994