Introduction: Dossier Unfolding Art History in Latin America - Part I 

edited by Maria Berbara, Roberto Conduru and Vera Beatriz Siqueira

BERBARA, Maria; CONDURU, Roberto; SIQUEIRA, Vera Beatriz (ed.). Introduction: Dossier Unfolding Art History in Latin America - Part I. 19&20, Rio de Janeiro, v. X, n. 1, jan./jun. 2015. [Português]

*     *     *

1.      The articles published in the current and the next issues of the journal 19&20 - two special editions - are the result of research conducted by students and professors involved in the Latin American exchange project Unfolding Art History in Latin America, based at the State University of Rio de Janeiro and in partnership with Universidad San Martín (Buenos Aires); Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá); Universidad San Francisco (Quito); and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico City).

2.      The goal of this project, supported by the Getty Foundation (Los Angeles) through its initiative Connecting Art Histories, was to analyze the art produced in the regions of Latin America throughout the so-called “long 19th century”: the period comprised between the struggles for independence from the Spanish colonies or the relocation of the Portuguese Court to the tropics and the consolidation of modernization processes in the early decades of the 20th century.

3.      Once having established this timespan, the arts produced in Latin American countries, or resulting from them, have been analyzed in their debate with three important cultural traditions: the classical tradition, present either in academies or schools of fine arts, in art made by foreigners who came to Latin America, or as a central aesthetic reference for the construction of images of the emerging nations; the modern tradition, essential for the modernization of cities, artistic systems, visual production and circulation techniques, as well as themes and issues in visual arts; and the non-Western tradition, present as the culture not only of indigenous people and Afro-descendants, but also of large groups of immigrants who arrived in America. Each student or professor has made an attempt to understand how a dialogue with these traditions was established by dealing with the concept of “unfolding”, which may include a wide range of experiences: adherence, resistance, appropriation, reinterpretation, incorporation, among others.

4.      In the first collection of texts, presented herein, the main focus is precisely the problem of the relationship between the construction of identities and the dialogue with alterity - or “otherness” - a key issue for countries formed by the intermixing of ethnic groups, cultures, and traditions. The texts address the construction and the transit of indigenous, African-American and Eastern traditions in relation to the arts produced in different places of Latin America, unfolding issues such as artistic ethnography, Indianism, representations of alterity, Africanity, women artists, and gaucho literature, among others.