This lecture will examine the following questions: How do Western museums re-think modernist art historical canons today? How can modern museums frame global contemporary art within a modernist context that does not represent modernities outside the U.S./Eurocentric art historical narrative? The goal is to shed light on an as-yet unstudied aspect of Alfred Barr’s preeminent role in establishing the definition of the problematic term “Latin-American art” in the United States through his inclusion of works by Latin-American artists in his collection displays at The Museum of Modern Art. In examining Barr’s shifting categorization of these works according to stylistic and geographic taxonomies, we gain a greater understanding of his articulation of the Modernist canon during the 1940s and 1950s. In the late 1960s, curator Elaine L. Johnson sought to revive Barr’s interest in this area of the collection, yet her contributions are unknown today. Barr’s inclusive international collection display groupings and Johnson’s proposals to fill gaps in collecting by creating a geographically specific curatorial area within MoMA prefigure strategies employed by museums in the United States and Europe today.
Resisting Categories: Latin American and/or Latino?
This talk will analyze how the categories of Latin-American and Latino art evolved throughout the last few decades through exhibitions organized in the United States. An underlying premise is that, in the absence of academic art history programs, the history of Latin-American and Latino art in this country has been researched and written through exhibitions and their accompanying publications. The talk will also consider how this phenomenon conflicts or overlaps with parallel accounts emerging from various countries in Latin America.
It is impossible to talk about modern art without talking about Spanish art. And this is especially so for American art. With Velázquez, Goya, and Greco as venerable ancestors, and Picasso, Miró, and Juan Gris, as modern references, Spanish art has epitomized artistic freedom to American artists of several generations.