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ARTH307: Arts of Latin America

Unit 3: The Modern Americas   The emergence of modernism defined modern Latin American art over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Beginning with the early constructions of American identities by European “traveler-reporter” artists, modern Latin American art described changing cultural and historical landscapes from Mexico to the Southern Cone.  This unit introduces Latin American avant-gardes beginning with the acclaimed Mexican muralists and continuing through modernist stirrings in Brazil and Argentina.  The unit concludes with an overview of contemporary Latin American and Latino art and a reflection on broad, course-wide themes relating to the history and present-day identities of Latin American art. 

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 32.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 3.1: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 6.5 hours
 

☐    Subunit 3.3.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3.2: 4.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4: 9.5 hours
 

☐    Subunit 3.4.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4.2: 4 hours

☐    Subunit 3.4.3: 2 hours
 

☐    Subunit 3.5: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.6: 8 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Identify and describe representative examples of modern and contemporary Latin American art by style, region, and movement. - Explain the relationship between modern and contemporary Latin American artworks and the broader social, economic, intellectual, and political contexts in which they functioned and circulated. - Describe aspects of artistic innovation and continuity over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the ways in which artists engaged Western and non-Western traditions. - Discuss modernism in pan-American and transatlantic contexts and trace its evolution through the first half of the twentieth century. - Describe trends in contemporary art practices across Latin America. - Explain critical themes related to Latin American art and its relationship to global histories of art.

3.1 Introduction to the Modern Era   - Reading: vimeo.com: Steven Volk’s “Shaping Independent Latin America” Link: vimeo.com: Steven Volk’s “Shaping Independent Latin America” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Volk’s lecture gives an overview of the history of Latin American independence in the nineteenth century.  This is essential background material for the visual culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
 
The video runs approximately 37 minutes.  Plan to spend 60 minutes watching the lecture and taking notes.
 
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  • Reading: historicaltextarchive.com: Roger P. Davis’s “The Odyssey of Identity: Culture and Politics in the Evolution of Latin American Nationalism” Link: historicaltextarchive.com: Roger P. Davis’s “The Odyssey of Identity: Culture and Politics in the Evolution of Latin American Nationalism” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: A reading in cultural history, this article introduces the idea of nationalism in the Americas.  Nationalism figures prominently in the arts of modern Latin America, and its conceptual complexity is here clearly discussed.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 45 minutes on this reading.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Illinois: Lisa M. Edwards’s “Paths to Progress in Modern Latin America”

    Link: University of Illinois: Lisa M. Edwards’s “Paths to Progress in Modern Latin America” (HTML)

    Instructions: An overview of the history of Latin America in the decades around the turn of the twentieth century, this reading introduces many of the issues and debates – urbanization, modernism, progress – that figure in the artworks of this time.

    Expect to spend approximately 45 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “Introduction” Link: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “Introduction” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: This reading introduces Traba’s important and pioneering study of modern Latin American art, which serves as the principal text for this unit of the course.  Here, she reviews the nineteenth-century origins of modernism and previews some of the artists and movements of the twentieth century.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.
     
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3.2 The Nineteenth Century   - Reading: CUNY: Alexander von Humboldt: From the Americas to the Cosmos: Georgia de Havenon’s “Recording Civilization”

Link: CUNY: Alexander von Humboldt: From the Americas to the Cosmos:
Georgia de Havenon’s [“Recording
Civilization”](http://web.gc.cuny.edu/dept/bildn/publications/AlexandervonHumboldt.shtml)
(PDF)

Instructions: Click on the link to Havenon’s essay (in Part IV: Life
and Travels) to open as a PDF.  Humboldt was the foremost of a
number of “traveler-reporter” artists who explored the Americas in
the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Havenon traces his
influence through later travelers to the Andean site of Tiwanaku and
examines the evolution of scientific approaches to studies of Latin
America.

Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: Ray Hernández-Durán’s “Modern Museum Practice in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: The Academy of San Carlos and la antigua escuela mexicana” Link: Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide: Ray Hernández-Durán’s “Modern Museum Practice in Nineteenth-Century Mexico: The Academy of San Carlos and la antigua escuela mexicana (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This reading describes the cultural politics surrounding the emergence of Mexican art history in the nineteenth century.  As you read, consider the ways in which the Academy of San Carlos historicized the art of the colonial period and the relationship between its Gallery and the new Mexican nation.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
     
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  • Reading: University of Essex: Guy Thomson’s Arara: “Arrieta’s Poblanas”

    Link: University of Essex: Guy Thomson’s Arara: “Arrieta’s Poblanas” (HTML)

    Instructions: Click on the link to Thomson’s essay to open as a PDF.  This reading explores nineteenth-century costumbrista painting in the work of Arrieta, one of the first artists to portray everyday subjects as symbols of modern Mexico.

    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.3 Twentieth-Century Avant-Gardes   3.3.1 Mexican Muralism   - Reading: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “Mexican Muralism: Accomplishment and Impact”

Link: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s *Art of Latin America: 1900-1980*:
[“Mexican Muralism: Accomplishment and
Impact”](http://www.iadb.org/publications/search.cfm?query=art+of+latin+america&context=Title&lang=en&searchLang=all&searchtype=general)
(PDF)

Instructions: The muralist movement ranks among the most innovative
and remarkable expressions of Latin American modernism.  Traba’s
chapter describes the work of “Los Tres Grandes” (“The Three Great
Ones”): Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro
Siqueiros.

Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.

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  • Lecture: YouTube: Ursula Davila-Villa’s “Mexican Muralists Gallery Talk”

    Link: YouTube: Ursula Davila-Villa’s “Mexican Muralists Gallery Talk” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Davila-Villa gives a walk-through of an exhibition of works on paper by the Mexican Muralists at the Blanton Museum of Art.  Compare these works to the large-scale murals introduced in Traba’s chapter.  How do these works in different media relate to each other?

    The lecture runs approximately 16 minutes.  Expect to spend 30 minutes watching the video and taking notes.

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3.3.2 Modern Avant-Gardes   - Reading: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “New Blood From the Avant-Garde” Link: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “New Blood From the Avant-Garde” (PDF)
 
Instructions: This chapter describes Latin American avant-garde movements during the 1930s and ‘40s.  As you read, consider the similarities and differences between these movements and Mexican muralism.  What role did nationalism play in the formation of artistic avant-gardes?
 
Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Reading: University of Texas: Jorge Schwartz’s “Literature and the Visual Arts: The Brazilian Roaring Twenties” Link: University of Texas: Jorge Schwartz’s “Literature and the Visual Arts: The Brazilian Roaring Twenties” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read Schwartz’s text, making sure to view the images in the Appendix (linked at the top of the page).  His essay describes the origins of the Brazilian avant-garde in both art and literature.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
     
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  • Web Media: vimeo.com: Christopher Capozzi’s “Xul Solar: Visions of an Imagination”

    Link: Christopher Capozzi’s “Xul Solar: Visions of an Imagination” (HTML)

    Instructions: A survey of Xul Solar, one of the most intriguing figures of his generation, this film shows many of his most important works alongside detailed historical and biographical commentary.

    The film runs just under 15 minutes.  Plan to spend about 30 minutes watching it and taking notes.

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  • Reading: Cecilia De Torres’ “El Taller Torres-García”

    Link: Cecilia De Torres’ “El Taller Torres-García” (HTML)

    Instructions: Torres-García is a foundational figure in the history of modern Latin American art.  This short text describes the influence of his teachings.  Be sure to click on the links (embedded in the text) to artists who worked in the Taller (e.g. Julio Alpuy, José Gurvich) for additional information.

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: tate.org.uk’s “Frida Kahlo: Room Guide” Link: tate.org.uk’s “Frida Kahlo: Room Guide” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This webpage documents an exhibition of Kahlo’s work that was held at London’s Tate Modern in 2005.  Click through each of the eleven “Rooms” to read about Kahlo’s life and work, paying particular attention to the artworks illustrated and their evocation of her experience and identity.
     
    Plan to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
     
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3.4 Contemporary Latin American Art   3.4.1 Geometric Abstraction   - Reading: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “Decades of Change”

Link: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s *Art of Latin America: 1900-1980*:
[“Decades of
Change”](http://www.iadb.org/publications/search.cfm?query=art+of+latin+america&context=Title&lang=en&searchLang=all&searchtype=general)
(PDF)

Instructions: This chapter assesses art from the long decade of the
1950s, with sections on Abstract Expressionism and Geometric
Abstraction.  Read pages 83-114.

Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.

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  • Web Media: Blanton Museum’s “Explore Artworks from The Geometry of Hope”

    Link: Blanton Museum’s “Explore Artworks from The Geometry of Hope” (Adobe Flash)

    Instructions: This webpage documents an important exhibition of geometric abstraction in Latin America that was held in 2007.  Click on each of the seven artworks illustrated on the homepage to open more detailed pages that include artist biographies, examples of work, and short video clips. 

    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes reading through this webpage and all of its images, videos, and texts.

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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Iris Peruga’s “Gego: Rigor and Creative Flight”

    Link: artnexus.com: Iris Peruga’s “Gego: Rigor and Creative Flight” (HTML)

    Instructions: An overview of Gego’s career, this text traces her training as an architect in Germany and the later evolutions of her work in sculpture and drawing. 

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Bélgica Rodríguez’s “Jesús Soto on Art and Life”

    Link: artnexus.com: Bélgica Rodríguez’s “Jesús Soto on Art and Life” (HTML)

    Instructions: In this interview, Soto traces his origins as an artist and discusses the nature of his art practices.

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.

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3.4.2 Pop, Political Art and Conceptualism   - Reading: Reading: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s Art of Latin America: 1900-1980: “Decades of Change” and “Newcomers and New Trends”

Link: iadb.org: Marta Traba’s *Art of Latin America: 1900-1980*:
[“Decades of Change” and
“](http://www.iadb.org/publications/search.cfm?query=art+of+latin+america&context=Title&lang=en&searchLang=all&searchtype=general)[Newcomers
and New
Trends”](http://www.iadb.org/publications/search.cfm?query=art+of+latin+america&context=Title&lang=en&searchLang=all&searchtype=general) (PDF)

Instructions: Read the final section of “Decades of Change,” which
covers neo-figuration (pages 114-31).  Then turn to the final
chapter of Traba’s book, which surveys emerging currents in Latin
American art between 1960 and 1980.  The text considers a range of
art practices, the nature of art criticism, and the international
pressures and dynamics facing artists during this time.

Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Victoria Verlichak’s “Marta Minujin”

    Link: artnexus.com: Victoria Verlichak’s “Marta Minujin” (HTML)

    Instructions: This text surveys the work of Minujín, one of Latin America’s pioneering Pop artists.

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: tate.org.uk’s “Cildo Meireles: Explore the Exhibition”

    Link: tate.org.uk’s “Cildo Meireles: Explore the Exhibition” (HTML)

    Instructions: A conceptual artist, Meireles has drawn on both Brazilian history and philosophy in work that encompasses actions and installations.  Part of an exhibition at London’s Tate Modern in 2008, this webpage presents a chronological survey of his work.  Click through each of the seven “Rooms,” reading the text and making sure to view the images (note the arrows at the upper-right-hand side of each page).

    Plan to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Celia Sredni de Birbragher and Ivonne Pini’s “León Ferrari”

    Link: artnexus.com: Celia Sredni de Birbragher and Ivonne Pini’s “León Ferrari” (HTML)

    Instructions: Ferrari remains one of Latin America’s more controversial artists.  His work encompasses abstraction, language, politics, and photography.  In this interview, he reflects on the nature of his work and his sources.

    Plan to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.

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3.4.3 Postmodern Trends   - Reading: iadb.org: Germán Rubiano Caballero’s “Art of Latin America: 1981-2000”

Link: iadb.org: Germán Rubiano Caballero’s [“Art of Latin America:
1981-2000”](http://www.iadb.org/publications/search.cfm?query=art+of+latin+america&context=Title&lang=en&searchLang=all&searchtype=general)
(PDF)

Instructions: Click on the title, *Art of Latin America: 1981-2000*,
to download and open the catalogue.  A companion to Traba’s text,
this book surveys contemporary trends in Latin American art.  Read
the Introduction and pages 1-21 carefully; you may skim the section
“Regions and Countries.”  N.B. This catalogue appears twice on the
IADB webpage; the texts are identical.

Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Joel Weinstein’s “Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculptures and Performances 1972-1985”

    Link: artnexus.com: Joel Weinstein’s “Ana Mendieta: Earth Body, Sculptures and Performances 1972-1985” (HTML)

    Instructions: Mendieta created provocative artworks that explored performance, gender, landscape, and religion.  This reading presents an overview of her work and its interpretations.

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.

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3.5 Latino Art   - Lecture: iTunes U: Smithsonian American Art Museum Lectures and Symposia’s “Latino Art in Transition” Link: iTunes U: Smithsonian American Art Museum Lectures and Symposia’s “Latino Art in Transition” (iTunes)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and select “View in iTunes” to watch the lecture.  Virginia Mecklenburg, Senior Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, moderates a dialogue between Latino artists Pepón Osorio and Miguel Luciano.  Each artist introduces his work, and their conversation extends to their influences and sources, audience, and Latino identities.
 
The podcast runs just over one hour.  Plan to spend approximately 90 minutes watching the lecture and taking notes.
 
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3.6 Latin American Art Today   - Reading: artjournal.collegeart.org: Robin Adèle Greeley et al’s “Forum on Latin American Art Criticism”

Link: artjournal.collegeart.org: Robin Adèle Greeley et al’s [“Forum
on Latin American Art
Criticism”](http://artjournal.collegeart.org/?p=61) (PDF)

Instructions: Scroll to the bottom of the webpage to “Forum on Latin
American Art Criticism” (*Art Journal* 64, no. 4 [Winter 2005]), and
click “View pdf” to download and open the file.  The six essays
revisit the history of modern Latin American art through the figures
of prominent critics who shaped the field.  The texts both document
the historiography of the field and suggest the difficulty of
defining “Latin American” art in relation to the international
history of modernism.

Plan to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.

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  • Reading: artnexus.com: Gerardo Mosquera’s “From Latin American Art to Art from Latin America”

    Link: artnexus.com: Gerardo Mosquera’s “From Latin American Art to Art from Latin America” (HTML)

    Instructions: Mosquera’s text traces different paradigms that have been used to define Latin American art.  As you read his essay, consider the historical connotations of the term “Latin American Art” and weigh the value of its continued usage for contemporary “Art from Latin America.”

    Plan to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.

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