Modernism in Latin America
This course examines the emergence and development of Latin American modernisms in their so-called first and second waves. The first one, which unfolded from the 1920s to the 1940s in Brazil, Mexico and Cuba, witnessed the artists’ combination of imported European avant-garde tendencies—such as post-impressionism and Cubism—with local motifs to produce an art that could reflect a national identity. The second wave pertains to the post World War II raise of abstract tendencies in South America, specifically, concrete abstraction in Argentina and Brazil, and op and kinetic art in Venezuela. Artistic modernisms in the region will be studied in connection with the political and cultural context in Latin American countries, specifically, the process of nation-state building, the rise of populist ideologies, and the incidence of developmentalism in the Southern Cone during the 1950s and 1960s. We will analyze a range of artists, such as Tarsila do Amaral, Candido Portinari, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, Wifredo Lam, Mario Carreño, Pedro Figari, group MADÍ, Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica, Carlos Cruz-Diez and Jesús Rafael Soto. Topics might include: the strategies of modernity in Latin America, the new concept of “inverted utopia,” the role of the avant-garde group manifestos, the post-colonial, and the meaning of abstraction within a turbulent political milieu. We discuss crucial concepts that define cultural modernism in Latin America; among them, identity, indigenismo, costumbrismo, transculturation, syncretism, hybridization, and race politics.
Course Code: HTA 278
Instructor(s): Iliana Cepero-Amador