College of Art Association meeting, February 2014

Panel | Papers


En el panel ”Intelectual Networks: Art and Politics art in Latin America“ presentado en la reunión del CAA en Chicago, se construyeron nuevos vínculos con investigadores que estaban trabajando en el mismo tema pero que no estaban incluidos en el grupo inicial.

Este panel pretende explorar la manera en la que la estética se volvió un área de discusión común entre las posiciones políticas e ideológicas divergentes en América Latina de el siglo pasado. Aquellos intercambios entre artistas, críticos de arte e historiadores, crearon una red de discusión donde temas como Latinoamericanismo e internacionalismo tuvieron gran relevancia.

Históricamente la mayor parte de la historia y la crítica de arte en América Latina fue ejecutada por figuras políticas y literarias y por ello, ha dado pie a un gran debate dentro de la crítica literaria con respecto al contenido y orientaciones de estas producciones. Sin embargo, pocos han sido los que han tratado las consecuencias de aquellas discusiones y cómo estas moldearon el arte de el continente. Por tanto, concluimos que tales nociones de red intelectual, el intercambio de ideas y la colaboración en entre países son temas que aún requieren de una revisión a mayor profundidad y especialmente, como estudio desde la perspectiva de la historia del arte.

La investigación comenzó gracias al apoyo del Getty Foundation y su programa Connecting Art Histories en 2011 cuando convenimos un grupo de doce académicos de diferentes países latinoamericanos que invitamos para reflexionar en las consolidaciones de redes intelectuales entre 1920 y 1970. Propusimos entonces que de este panel en el CAA, se expandieran la perspectivas y se revisaran las nuevas ideas propuestas en la red intelectual que se creó, y también a partir nuestra convención actual de académicos.


The Errant Avant-Gardism of El Techo de la Ballena: From Immemorial Matter to the Currency of the Ready-Made. María C Gaztambide, International Center for the Arts of the Americas

El Techo de la Ballena, the Caracas-based multidisciplinary collective (active, 1961−69), troubles the long-standing view of Latin America’s combative artists as practitioners of styles opposite to the international tendencies that were prized by the global art circuit. This canonical narrative fails to consider how many artists from the region co-opted the lexicon of internationalism—yet not the language of progress—in the furtherance of their social and political commentaries. El Techo’s painterly and process-based practices, for example, culminated in work that bespoke of the dematerialized open forms of Informalism. At the same time, the group’s provocative actions reflected the legacy of kindred movements such as Dada. Yet they were often dismissed as political and local, as the antithesis of the international and the modern; the group ultimately subsumed by an art historical narrative that obscured the complexities of Latin American avant-gardism. Drawing from El Techo’s writings and ephemeral materials, this essay argues that their asymmetrical aesthetic constructions—where the vehicle and language were essentially modern but the content and referents were often archaic—allowed them to transcend the artificial incompatibility that was said to have existed between ideologically- charged art and internationalism in the 1960s.

Latin American cultural networks and the debates about revolutionary art (1970-1973). Mariana Marchesi, Universidad de Buenos Aires.

In the years leading up to 1970, the idea of Latin America as a space of common identification extended all over the continent giving rise to several cultural networks. One of these networks was strengthened by Cuba and Chile after the triumph of Salvador Allende in the Chilean presidential elections of September 1970. These cultural connections were developed under a wider program of bilateral initiatives that arose as a result of reestablished diplomatic relations between both countries.

By 1971 La Havana and Santiago had strengthened an artistic-cultural axis. The central idea of this alliance sought to form an anti-imperialist artistic front. With this purpose the Instituto de Arte Latinoamericano (University of Chile) and the Cuban Casa de las Américas programmed the First Meeting of Latin American Art, that was conceived as the first of a series of meetings designed to rethink the role of the revolutionary artist in Latin America.

Between latinoamericanismos: the collection of books “Latin American Art Today” edited by Pan American Union (1959- 1969). Nadia Moreno Moya, Phd student, Art History, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Latin American Art Today” was a collection of books devoted to the visual arts that could be seen as a good example of latinoamericanismo that firmed up “America Latina” as a study subject in academic programs and institutions of United States during the sixties. Even though, its authors were not USA based academics, all of them were art critics living and working in Latin America such as Marta Traba (Colombia) and Juan Acha (Perú). There is a sort of latinoamericanismo “made in Latin America” through the voice or these authors that stand out features of the contemporary art scene of their countries as part of “universal” aesthetic codes, but at the same time, arguments about cultural specificity. In this sense, “Latin American Art Today” is an editorial project that shows how any of these latinoamericanismos operated inside a colonial geopolitical power.

Art and (Geo)politics: South American ‘Otherness’ at the 1968 Atelier Populaire. Isabel Plante, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and Instituto de Altos Estudios Sociales, Universidad Nacional de San Martín (IDAES-UNSAM)

Given its relationship to the events of May 1968, the Atelier Populaire is one of the most frequently invoked imbrications of art and politics in the 1960s. The crucial role played by South American artists in the production of the studio’s posters noted by their French counterparts, however, has remained almost completely unexamined, perhaps because of the Atelier’s collective nature. This paper analyzes several celebrated anonymous posters as well as others that were signed by individual artists. I address the participation of Argentine artists in the Atelier in relation to the configuration of the Latin American artistic community at Paris at this time, arguing that this episode constitutes a privileged case through which to trace connections between foreignness and cultural resistance. In the context of the crisis that May ‘68 represented for the autonomy of the artistic field, the participation of ‘Others’ lent an element of the contemporary discourse around Third World solidarity, in turn indentifying the Atelier with the rise of a collective and radicalized cultural production.

Testimonios de America Latina: The Schmuck magazine missing number. Ana Romandía, Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo

In 1970 Felipe Ehrenberg, Martha Hellion and David Mayor founded Beau Geste Press, a self-managing editorial that published around 150 limited edition artist books, and built an important network of artist/editors. Conceived as a community of printers, duplicators and craftsmen, Beau Geste Press was an alternative space that weaved an exchange network that reached Eastern Europe and Latin America, establishing connections within artists, poets and intellectuals, and publishing low-cost editions with full freedom of expression.

Between 1972 and 1976 Beau Geste Press published Schmuck magazine, a collective edition based on exchanges that compiled collaborations from several artists. With eight published numbers, it was a compendium and review of alternative art, as well as a way to give voice to artists that were ideologically close.

In 1973 the editors sent a call for participations from Latin America, seeking to create a special issue. However –and despite many artists had already sent material– the Latin-American issue was never completed. My paper is an approach to the collected material brought to Mexico by Ehrenberg and presented, along with other works, in 1978 as an exhibition at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil named “Testimonios de Latinoamérica”