The Heart of Latin Art

By Goodale, Gloria | The Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Heart of Latin Art

Goodale, Gloria, The Christian Science Monitor

Latin American art is hot. Just ask the enthusiastic patrons of the Bowers Museum. Tucked away 30 minutes south of Los Angeles, this medium-sized art center has managed to make a name for itself bringing shows that say something about where the public's cultural heart is headed. And these days, increasingly, that is toward creativity from south of the US border.

"This is a story of growing social, political, and economic awareness between the world's remaining superpower and its intimate neighbors," says Richard Townsend, director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in nearby Long Beach, "one that is being told through the language of art." The twin shows at the Bowers (LATITUDES: Latin American Masters from the FEMSA Collection and "The Baroque World of Fernando Botero"), are part of what curators and critics from all over the hemisphere are calling an important flowering of interest in art from Chile to Puerto Rico, Cuba to Colombia.

"There appears to be an unprecedented number of major shows about Latin American artists right now," says Ramon Cernuda, owner of Cernuda Arte in Coral Gables, Fla. Latin American art is showing from coast to coast: Florida's Naples Museum of Art ("Latin American Painting Now"); Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Conn., ("Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul," "Ancestors of the Passage"); University of California, Berkeley, Art Museum (Fernando Botero's controversial Abu Ghraib works); Indianapolis Museum of Art ("Sacred Spain: Art & Belief in the Spanish World"); and The Menil Collection in Houston ("Joaquin Torres-Garcia: Constructing Abstraction with Wood").

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15) has helped promote interest. But as numerous culture watchers observe, the story is much deeper than that. As Mr. Townsend points out, the market began to take off in the 1980s, when prices for many big names, such as Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and fellow Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, began to soar.

Now, social and economic pressures are pushing the US and Latin American countries ever closer, says Lyman Allyn guest curator Gail Gelburd. "The shifting demographics of today are making it more important than ever that we find ways to understand other cultures, and art is a vital tool for that," she adds.

As cultures grow increasingly global, artists are reaching across boundaries to frame the global human experience for all nations. Witness Colombian Fernando Botero's response to news of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. "This generation will understand the Abu Ghraib reference," says Berkeley curator Lucinda Barnes, "but this art transcends this moment and place to become timeless works for all people...."

This wealth of imagery paints a vivid picture of where Latin American art has come and where it is headed. The survey of Latin masters at the Bowers includes Cubism, portraiture, landscapes, muralism, Surrealism, and Abstraction with such artists as Frida Kahlo, Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Matta, Jose Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Jesus Soto, and Rufino Tamayo.

"Latin America is the only continent in the world where you have a fusion of cultures in the most radical manner," says curator at- large Gregorio Luke, who lectures about Latin American art around the world.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Heart of Latin Art


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?