The first sustained study on representations of African descendants from Spanish-speaking Latin America in Paris, Representing Black Latin Americans in Paris, 1922-1933 makes a major contribution to the fields of modernism in Art History, as well as African-American visual culture, black internationalism, and Latin American art/cultural history. Engagingly and clearly written, Lyneise Williams discusses the unique ways that depictions of black Latin Americans fared in the context of interwar Paris, which was flooded with representations of African Americans and other black groups. Questions of race and racial categories were of pressing concern in early 20th-century French culture in general and Parisian modernist circles in particular. In isolating this previously overlooked demographic group, she contributes to the understanding of art history as well as of race and difference more generally. Focusing primarily on the period 1922-1933, Williams also examines imagery of Latin Americans from the mid-19th century, heretofore never mapped or examined in a scholarly manner, using a wide range of visual sources including graphic advertisements, illustrations, photographs, and paintings. Included are chapters on the Afro-Cuban clown Chocolat, Panamanian boxing champ Al Brown, and Uruguayan painter Pedro Figari. Williams argues that the French popular view of blacks in general, including Latin American blacks, was shaped by the influence of racial binaries intrinsic to U.S. history, with its late abolition of slavery, which migrated to France with African-American music and dance. She demonstrates the unique ways the images interrupt black/white binaries even as they are impacted by them.
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Lyneise Williams is Assistant Professor of Art History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.
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