Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America

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9780292708587: Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America

Winner, Vasari Award, Dallas Museum of Art, 2002
Honorable Mention, Honorable Mention, ALAA Book Award, The Association of Latin American Art, 2002

The twentieth-century art of Latin America is art in the western tradition, and its leading figures—Wifredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Diego Rivera, Joaquín Torres-García, to name only a few—have achieved international stature. Yet much of the writing about this art has offered either a victimized view of an art tradition dominated by foreign models or a romanticized view of what Latin American art should be. This pathfinding book, by contrast, seeks not to "invent" Latin American art but to look at it from the points of view of its own artists and critics.

Drawing on some forty years of studying and teaching Latin American art, Jacqueline Barnitz surveys the major currents and artists of the twentieth century in Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America (including Brazil). She progresses chronologically from modernismo and the break with nineteenth-century academic art to some of the trends of the 1980s, setting each movement within its historical and cultural contexts. This grand survey of modern Latin American art will thus be the essential guide to a vibrant art tradition, as well as a vital teaching tool. Lavishly illustrated with color and black-and-white reproductions of major works, it will be useful to artists, collectors, historians, writers, and social scientists, as well as art historians.

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About the Author:

Jacqueline Barnitz is Professor of Modern Latin American Art at the University of Texas at Austin.

From Library Journal:

Though utterly at odds in their approaches, these two works together present perhaps the fullest understanding of Latin American art available for the least shelf space. Barnitz (modern Latin American art, Univ. of Texas, Austin) offers a straightforward, essentially chronological account of the most important styles and artists from Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, and most of South America. She acknowledges, without quite justifying, the exclusion of art from other Central American and Caribbean countries. More regrettably, only mid-century architecture makes an appearance, and the relation of the plastic arts to performing arts is not considered. However, a book of such scope is necessarily selective, and Barnitz makes up for these failings by forging a coherent overview. Most importantly, her tone is consistent but nondogmatic as she positions the major currents of the century from 1890 to 1990 within the Western tradition, not subjugated to it or exotically distinct. The only real shortcoming is the quality of the illustrations (105 in color, 204 in black and white), which can be muddled and flat. Cocurators Armstrong and Zamudio-Taylor present a sumptuous, bilingual package to accompany their show of contemporary art, which will travel from San Diego's Museum of Contemporary Art to Fort Worth, San Francisco, Toronto, Miami, and Minneapolis over the next two years. The catalog at the heart of the book highlights 15 artists from all over Latin America; each is given six pages with bright, clear illustrations of a few pieces and analytical essays. The works of these young artists (the oldest is 44) are all of very high caliber and represent diverse styles and media. Some will be well known to those who keep up with the contemporary scene, while others have had little exposure in the United States. Surrounding this core are four equally fine essays investigating the curatorial theme of the Baroque the style's historical impact from the colonial period, its frequently derogatory application to a perceived Latin taste for ornamentation, and its actual relevance to the selected artists. Beyond the checklist and artist biographies, the end matter further enhances the book with a 20-page "sourcebook" containing short writings from the last five centuries on both Latin colonization and the concept of the Baroque. Both books are highly recommended for all academic and most medium and large public libraries. Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Barnitz, Jacqueline
Published by University of Texas Press (2001)
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