Born in 1930 in Montevideo (Uruguay) of Russian-Romanian parents. Studied in Buenos Aires ( Argentina.)
1949–50 After obtaining a first-level degree in architecture, decided to concentrate on painting and writing. In Juan-Jacobo Bajarlía’s group, Contemporánea, met the brothers Edgar Bayley and Tomás Maldonado; the painters Alfredo Hlito and Manuel Espinosa, the musician Esteban Eitler, and the poet Raúl Gustavo Aguirre. With the latter, became co-director of the revue Poesía Buenos Aires, which, during the ‘50s, was the most important, if not the only, magazine in Argentina diffusing modern French poetry.
1951 Left Argentina to settle in Paris.
1951–56 In 1951, met the founder of the Madi movement, the Uruguayan master painter Carmelo Arden Quin, with whom he studied the principles of Madi art.
At the end of 1951, together with Arden Quin, created the Madi Research and Study Center (for experimental art), which functioned in Arden Quin’s Montparnasse studio in Paris until 1958.
Navigated through the Parisian avat-garde scene of cafes, studios and galleries, and drew inspiration from the Belgian master Georges Vantongerloo and from Arden Quin. His circle of friends included Sam Francis, Joan Mitchel, Wifredo Lam, Alicia Penalba, Soto, Sugai, Fonseca, Piotr Kowalski.
Was active with Arden Quin in reactivating the Madi movement in Europe.
Among numerous Madi events, Roitman’s paintings were exhibited at the following venues:
Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Paris: ’52, ’53, ‘54, ’55 and ’56.
First Exhibition of Abstract Art, Chalons-sur-Marne (France), November, 1952.
Idem, Epernay-sur-Marne (France), November 1952.
Galérie Suzanne Michel, Paris, February, 1953.
Cercle Paul Valéry, La Sorbonne, Paris, June 15, 1953.
Galérie de l’Odéon, Paris, February 1954.
Galérie Cimaise in the show “14 Abstract Artists,” Paris, January, 1955.
Galérie Denise René, Paris, September, 1956.
November - December 1955: Volf Roitman’s exhibition at the Galérie de Beaune in Paris constituted the first solo show by a Madi artist in Europe. Along with Alicia Penalba and others, he again exhibited at this gallery in 1956 in the group show “Tendances.”
Also in 1955, Roitman was included in the Benezit guide to International Art ,where his work was compared to that of the English avant-garde master Ben Nicholson.
1956-58 In 1956, his poems were published in Antología de una Poesía Nueva, Ediciones Poesía Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Wrote two experimental “Madi” plays, “ Cesquetucroy,” and “Professor Omnium.” About these works, André Breton wrote, “As much on the dramatic as the poetic level, your creation has made me discover a spring of utter beauty, one which is both wonderfully enveloped and effervescently new.”
1958- 61 In New York, founded the Ion Theatter School. Produced several plays and directed Georg Buchner’s “Leonce and Lena” at the Orpheum Theater.
1960 Exhibition of Roitman’s New York paintings in the theater hall.
1962 Under the pseudonym Alvar Dazil, published the novel ”The Liquid Wall” dealing with the plight of European refugees in South America after World War II. (Editions Del Duca, Paris.)
1962-68 With Arden Quin and others, was a co-founder of the Paris-based and Madi-inspired review “Ailleurs” (“Elsewhere”); served on the “Ailleurs” editorial committee and wrote various articles for the magazine.
1963-72 Supported his painting and other artistic activities by forming a company which built some of the largest (up to 54 square meters) architectural scale models of the period.
1969 Under the pseudonyme Guillaume Roux, wrote the play “Blue like an Orange”, a prize-winner in the 1969 Enghien (France) Dramatic Art Competition.
1972 Again under the pseudonym Guillaume Roux, published the novel “The Yanks”, a story of expatriate Americans in Paris (Presses de la Cité, Paris).
1970-82 Together with his wife Shelley Goodman, was a director of the film company Shelltrie Productions. An eclectic cinematographic career (production of short films, script writing; distribution; owner of a 2-screen art house in the Pompidou section of Paris.)
In February, 1982, participated in the “Madi Lieu Cinq” group show organized at the Espace Donguy gallery in Paris.
In June, 1982, was part of a second Madi group show organized at the Espace Donguy.
With Shelley Goodman, published a satirical newspaper entitled Mordu Mordant, (“Bitten-Biting”).
1983–85 Produced his first cut-outs and “tri-dimensional” collages. In November of 1984, participated in the “Art Madi, Actualité d’un Mouvement” show at the Galeria El Salotto in Como (Italy).
Also in 1984, participated in the “Sortie du Rectangle ” show at the Galerie de la Salle, Saint-Paul-de-Vence (France)
In January of 1985, again showed his work at the Espace Donguy in Paris in the “Exposition Mouvement Madi.”
1985–93 Using the pseudonym Shelley V.Ashley, collaborated with Shelley Goodman on various novels: “The Oriole’s Nest,” “Inherit the Child,” “The Peacocks,” and “The Lost Daughter.” “Inherit the Child” was made into a telefilm coproduced by French Channel One and Canal +.
Was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Lynchburg, Virginia) in 1988 and again in 1989, as well at the Centre d‘Art La Rectoria (Spain) in 1992.
Roitman's most recent exhibitions include the following:
1991 “Arte Concreto-Invención, Arte Madi” at the Haus fur Konstruktive und Konkrete Kunst in Zurich (Switzerland) before traveling to various venues in Germany and to the Galérie Lahumière (Paris), in November.
1992 Galérie Helios, Calais and Avignon (France).
“Abstraction Geometrique” at the Galérie de la Salle, St-Paul-de-Vence (France).
“Art Construit Actuel, Amerique Latine” at the Galérie St. Charles de Rose, Paris (France)
In December, his work was included in a group show of Catalan and foreign artists at the Centre d’Art La Rectoria in Saint Pere de Vilamajor, Barcelona (Spain.)
1993 St. Charles de Rose Gallery, Paris. Solo retrospective
Helios Gallery, Calais (France). Solo show.
Arte Struktura Gallery, Milan (Italy.)
The Lycee Hotelier , St. Quentin en Yvelines (France.)
Chateau de St. Circq Lapopie, Lot ( France.)
“Matter, Form and Light, at the Helios Gallery, Calais (France.)1994 Personal show at the Centre d’Art La Rectoria in Sant Pere de Vilamajor (Spain,) from April 9th to May 9th. This show included several “Jagged Edge” bristol sculptures, “Memory of Castletownshed” - a tri-dimensionel paper mural including “Totems” and “Portholes” plus a new series of standing “Flower,” sculptures in bristol and metal. In July, gave a presentation of both the Madi Movement and his own methodology of tri-dimensionel paper collage at the Symposium of Geometric Art, sponsored by the Noesis Foundation in Calaceite (Spain).July 12th to 30th: presented two tri-dimensionel paper collages in the “Madi en Perspective” group show at the Claude Dorval Gallery in Paris.
His recent work - paper tri-dimensionel collages and a metal relief were shown in two important exhibitions of the 55 member-strong Madi group. These exhibitions were organized to announce the founding in Maubeuge, (France,) of a Madi Foundation to house both a permanent collection of the movement’s works and the Madi archives:
In December, was part of a group show at the Claude Dorval Gallery in Paris : “Petits Formats”, were he presented tri-dimensionel paper “Portholes” in P.V.C. frames.
Also in December, a donated Roitman tri-dimensionel paper collage entitled “Copacabana 3” was sold at auction in a show to benefit the homeless, organized by the Dallas (Texas) Housing Crisis Center.
1995 In January, working in a Spanish factory, produced a first series of laser-cut, multidimensional metal sculptures, designed to have the lightness, flexibility and playfulness of his paper cut-outs.
In February, at the Longjumeau Lycee, outside of Paris, and in March at the Strasbourg (France) Art Market.
May, 1995: Showed several paper tri-dimensional collages at the Sabadell (Spain) Ecole des Beaux Arts.
April 28 to May 31st: Arte Struktura Internationale Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico (U.S.A.)
1995 May - June: Participated in the Madi group show entitled “Art in the City” which took place in public and private establishments throughout the town of Longjumeau, outside of Paris.
June 8th to July 9th: “Forty-Four Years Afterwards” : a joint exhibition of the works of Volf Roitman and MADI founder Carmelo Arden Quin at the Claude Dorval Gallery in Paris. This exhibition was organized in honor of the 44th anniversary of the opening of the Madi Research and Study Center. A conference explaining the origins of the Center which remained open at 23 rue Froidevaux in Paris from 1951 to 1958, was given by Volf Roitman and fellow Madi artist Roger Neyrat at the Dorval gallery on June 18, 1995.
June 23 to 25th: Works exhibited in a 3-day Madi Festival of art, music, ballet, kite-flying and fireworks organized by the Hungarian Madi group in Gyor (Hungary). Opening of a Madi Museum in the Var Art Gallery in Gyor.
July, 1995: “Incontro e Escontri all Sogli del 3o Millennion” (“Trends of the Last Generation”) show at the Forum Artis Museum of Contemporary Art in Montese (Italy.)
August, 1995: Ametlla Hospice, Ametlla del Vallés (Spain).
August 14th to 20th: Participated in the “Structures on the Edge of Chaos” symposium and poster display held in Washington, D.C. (USA) under the auspices of the Third Interdisciplinary Symmetry Congress.
1995 Centoira Gallery in Buenos Aires (Argentina). For the opening on Sept. 27th, Roitman read to the public his article, “Arden Quin” from the 1979 catalogue for the “Lieu Cinq Exhibition in Nice (France)
Oct. 30th : Inauguration of an exhibition of 3 Uruguayan artists – Arden Quin, Roitman and Bolivar – at the Museo Torres- García in Montevideo (Uruguay): “Anterioridad y Continuidad Madi.”
March 6th: Exhibition Hall, Ibercaja Bank, Zaragoza (Spain) ,
”Fifty Years After”, a major retrospective in honor of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Madi movement, was inaugurated in Zaragoza, Spain. This show, for which Roitman wrote the chronology as the historical section of the catalogue, included examples of his most recent works in metal. Some fifty other Madi artists from Europe, North and South America and Japan participated. Curated by the Argentine art historian César López-Osornio.
March 28th – June 30th: Arte Struktura Gallery, Milan (Italy). “After the Rectangle,” a joint exhibition of three historical figures of the Madi movement: Arden Quin, Presta and Roitman.
September 20th : Arte Struktura International Gallery, Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA.) Inauguration of a solo show of Roitman’s recent work, including laser-cut, multi-dimensional metal sculptures, some animated. On the same day, Roitman gave a conference entitled “What is Madi?” at the Albuquerque Museum of Art.
1997 April 15th to May 16th: Works of International Madi artists shown at the Institute Français in Budapest (Hungary.)
June 30th – Oct. 20th : Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid ( Spain,) “Arte Madi”, vast retrospective curated by María Lluisa Borrás. 300-page catalogue in Spanish and English chronicling Madi history from its origins to movement’s activities today on 4 continents. Two historical Roitman works from the ‘50s and three contemporary pieces, including the “Madi Building,” a laser-cut iron and plexiglass scale model commissioned for a site in Dallas, Texas by the Madi collectors Bill and Dorothy Masterson. The ” Madi Building” is the first project in the world for a building constructed according to Madi specifications and principles. Published extracts of his “Manifesto in favor of a Madi-Ludico Architecture” in the catalogue:
“Strictly polygonal design of asymmetric façades …geometric forms with sharply defined colors and contours, tri-dimensional surfaces, a clearly “ludico” (playful) spirit. The same basic computer program can produce an almost inexhaustible series of different exterior panels. This system provides us with the means to overthrow, once and for all, the tyranny of the module which has, with few exceptions, ruled architecture from the time of ancient Egypt…”
July 18th – August 30th: Villa Ormond, San Remo (Italy) Retrospective curated by Anna Canali and organized by Arte Struktura, Milan, with 300 constructivists works of international scope.
September 26 - Oct 31st : Galerie Alexandre Mottier , Geneva (Switzerland) “Hors Cadres”: exhibition of the works of Arden Quin and Roitman. Curated by Roberto Vignola . Show sponsored by the Ambassadors of Uruguay to Switzerland and to the United Nations in Geneva, with the collaboration of the Uruguayan Embassy in Paris.
1998 Became a founding member of Gyor, (Hungary), Madi Museum Project.
In February 1998, Roitman set up a studio outside Tampa, Florida, where he works during a part of each year.
Sept. 11-12: Festival Euro-Madi, a 2 day event in Gyor (Hungary), organised by the Hungarian Madi group with a ballet, concert, art show, debate and auction of the works of 49 international Madi artists to raise funds for the Pinnye Bridge Museum.
From December 20, 1998 to February 1999: Palazzo Festa Ostiglia, Mantova (Italy.)
1999 February 7-21, Maria Ricci Library, Naples (Italy.)
May 16 to June 12, Associazione Culturale Il Pilastro, in Santa Maria Capua Vetere-Caserta (Italy.)
July to October 3, Chateau de la Groulais, Blain (France) together with 80 Madi artists, from 12 countries, in “Hommage de Madi à Gorin”,
October 17 to 14 November, “Da Madi a Madi”, vast retrospective of historical and contemporary works, at the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna de Gallarate, Milano (Italy.) This museum has since opened a wing to display its permanent Madi collection.
November 11 to December 12: Sarasota Visual Art Center, Sarasota, (Florida.) Solo show.
“The Sarasota Visual Art center has mounted a Madi fesitival which may earn the Arts Center a niche in the history of 20th century art. Provocatively titled "Art out of its Frame" the exhibition features the innovative work of Volf Roitman...
...There is a joyous exhilaration and playfulness in all this non-objective work...”
The Longboat Observer, Sarasota (November 11, 1999)
2000 January 23: Palacio Real de Portici , Naples (Italy), Roitman works are included in the vast exhibition “Madi on the Threshold of the Third Millenium.”
October 6th to 22nd : “Mouvement Madi International” at the Chateau de Morsang, Morsang-sur-Orge, France. Vast exhibition including 80 Madi artists.
December 23: “Italia-Argentina / Argentina-Italia: Un Ponte per la Cultura,” Arte Struktura Gallery, Milan (Italy,) with a section entitled “Omagio agliesponenti del ‘movimiento internazionale madi,” featuring Arden Quin, Bolivar, Presta and Roitman.
At the beginning of January, Volf Roitman received the following grants:
- From the Palmer Foundation Houston, Texas, and the Odysseus Foundation, Florida, to commission a sculpture for the garden of the Gulf Coast Museum in Largo, Florida.
- From the Pollock-Krasner Foundation which awarded the grant “because of the exceptional quality of your work and the extent of your artistic achievement.”
- From the Masterson Foundation, Dallas, Texas, for the commission of two new sculptures experimenting with varying effects of light and movement.
April 7: inauguration of exhibition “Arte Madi Freie Geometrie.” Gallery Emilia Suciu , Ettingen (Germany.) Works of Madi artists from 12 countries.
August 18th – October 21st : Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida: “Outside the Box”: Eleven International MADI Artists Featuring Carmelo Arden Quin and Volf Roitman From the Masterson and Lenherr Collections, first retrospective in the U.S.A. of the artists featured, also including contemporary works of nine Madi artists, from France, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands, U.S.A. and Venezuela.
The same exhibition traveled to the Gulf Coast Museum in Largo, Florida, from November 30th to January 27th, 2002.
Portobello Restaurant, Miami, Florida, “Playing MADI”, series of collages and drawings.Solo show from December 11th, 2001, to January 15, 2002.
South Art Gallery, Miami, Florida, “Prelude to Playful MADI Art.” Solo show from December 8th, 2001 to January 4th, 2002.
Roitman has served as both Head of Communications and Archivist for the MADI Movement since 1992.