Summer Reading

Summer, for me, always evokes the reading lists of childhood.  I think of reading competitions and heading to the library to check out something new before the school year begins.  If you’re looking for a good summer read before the syllabi beckon, here are a few fiction options from one of last year’s reviews: The Guardian’s Review of 2015’s Best Latin American Books.TheUncomfortableDead

At the top of my “to do” pleasure reading list is a work by the author Paco Ignacio Taibo II.  I think I’ll start with The Uncomfortable Dead, a work reportedly co-written with Subcomandante Marcos, the former leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.  Taibo’s central character is a one-eyed private investigator who marvels at the street life that surrounds him in Mexico City.  NPR conducted an interview with the author in 2012, found here.

What is at the top of your summer reading list?  Do you have a shining recommendation?


CFP: ALAA at CAA 2017

Association for Latin American Art (ALAA)
The Evolving Canon: Collecting and Displaying Spanish Colonial Art
Chair(s): Ilona Katzew, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Ellen Dooley, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
This panel seeks to critically address the place of Spanish colonial art within the larger canon of art history through the lens of collecting and display. Despite a long-held interest among collectors in Spanish colonial art, it has only been in the last two decades or so that museums, universities, and the art market have seriously engaged with the material. Spanning a wide chronological range—from the early modern period to the present—this panel will explore the history of collecting Spanish colonial art globally, and how interest in the field is actively shifting the art historical canon and the ways we look at this period of artistic production. How have collectors, both individual and corporate, influenced trends and tastes? How do we classify and categorize artists not traditionally considered mainstream? Has growing access to objects and scholarship affected perceived notions of quality and authorship? How do scholars navigate this quickly expanding field of inquiry? Possible topics may include historiographical ones addressing the history of collecting Spanish colonial art in the Americas, Europe, and Asia; theoretical ones dealing with notions of connoisseurship and the evolving canon; valorizations of the material (current and past) and the implications of these assessments for the future of the field. Case studies as well as broader historical contributions are welcome, as well as papers that look at a wide range of media—paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, and so forth.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Interdisciplinary-Museum Studies/Curatorial Studies/Art Criticism
Open Session for Emerging Scholars of Latin American Art
Chair(s): Elisa C. Mandell, California State University, Fullerton; Ana Mannarino, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Each year increasing numbers of scholars are awarded doctoral degrees in Latin American art history. This session seeks to highlight the scholarship of advanced graduate and recent Ph.D. scholars. Papers may address any geographic region, theme, or temporal period related to the study of Latin American art or art history, including Caribbean, Central American, and Latinx topics.
Potential Subject Areas:
1) Art History-Latin American/Caribbean Art; 2) Art History-Pre-Columbian Art
Proposals for papers are due to session chairs by August 30, 2016. See the 2017 linked below for full instructions.
See the full 2017 Call for Participation for more panels.

Opening 6/11/16 at the San Antonio Museum of Art: “Highest Heaven”


Highest Heaven: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art

June 11 – September 4, 2016

Cowden Gallery

Highest Heaven, opening at the San Antonio Museum of Art on June 11, explores the paintings, sculpture, furniture, ivories and silverworks of the Altiplano, or high plains, of South America in the 18th century. Through the work of both well-regarded masters and lesser-known artists, Highest Heaven highlights the role of art in the establishment of new city centers in the Spanish Empire, and the propagation of the Christian faith among indigenous peoples. Drawn exclusively from the distinguished collection of Roberta and Richard Huber, the exhibition highlights the distinct visual language created by the cultural and creative exchanges that occurred between Spain and Portugal and their South American colonies. The exhibition will remain on view through September 4, 2016, before traveling to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in October, and to the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts the following March.

The exhibition features more than 100 works, including religious paintings, carved and gilded wooden sculptures, intimate ivories, and silverwork, originally housed in ecclesiastical and private collections throughout the former colonial possessions of Spain and Portugal. The majority of these works were created for functional purposes, as articles of faith or symbols of civic order, and were displayed in a manner that enhanced religious understanding, brought social order, and spurred conversion among colonial populations. Highest Heaven examines these uses, focusing in particular on the translation of Christian imagery to the colonies and the ways in which these works and objects worked to establish an ordered society and were integrated into religious life. The exhibition includes approximately 20 recent acquisitions by the Hubers, many of which have never before been seen in a museum exhibition.  [. . .]

Highlights from the exhibition, include:

  • Our Lady of the Rosary of Pomata, Bolivia, 17th Century, a moving example of the painted portrayals of the dressed virgin, which mimicked the practice of dressing statues of the Virgin for ceremonies and festivals. This painting style was unique to the Spanish Colonial world, and highlighted the incorporation of the Virgin into the experience of common life.
  • Christ Descending Into Hell, a large 18th Century Peruvian painting that dramatically shows a heroic Christ redeeming the souls of humanity—and one of the Hubers’ recent acquisitions;
  • A portrait of the Countess of Monteblanco and Miranar, attributed to the 18th-Century Peruvian painter Cristobal Lozano. A splendid portrait of one of the wealthiest women in the Viceroyalty of Peru, the painting shows how the Colonial elite of the New World displayed their status through elaborate representations that enumerated their sophistication and power;
  • Rest on the Flight Into Egypt, an 18th Century Bolivian painting that humanizes the Holy Family. It shows the Virgin Mary washing the Christ Child’s diapers, while recognizably South American flora and fauna populate the background;
  • Christ Child as Salvator Mundi, an extraordinary Indo-Portuguese ivory sculpture that communicates the humanity and lovability of the Christ Child and depicts a vision of perfect peace and the promise of salvation. These intimate, small scale sculptures were carved by craftsmen in the Spanish and Portuguese possessions of Goa and the Philippines and exported throughout the Colonial World as objects for devotion, testifying to the global nature of the Colonial art world;
  • An 18th Century Peruvian Pax, with a scene of Christ revealed to the people after his trial by Pontius Pilate. Made from the abundant silver deposits in the Viceroyalty of Peru, this devotional tablets were used in Mass as an object of veneration.


Brown Brilliance Darkness Matter

From: The National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago

Maria Gaspar (b.1980 Chicago) explores the NMMA Permanent Collection in dialogue with ephemera from her own personal surroundings. By reproducing, manipulating and preserving artifactualmaterials from history to promotional mementos and images, Gaspar attempts to reimagine new and complex realities for a contemporary cultural identity. The installation serves as a temporal frame that brings into question the role of static historical narratives within the abstract, using this platform as a space to create multiple meanings and imaginaries.

En un diálogo con su ambiente personal, María Gaspar (Chicago, 1980) explora la obra efémera de la Colección Permanente del NMMA. Al reproducir, manipular y preservar materiales de la historia hasta los recuerdos e imágenes de promoción “artefactual”, Gaspar intenta  volver a imaginar nuevas y complejas realidades para una identidad cultural contemporánea. La instalación sirve como un marco temporal que cuestiona el rol de las narrativas históricas estáticas dentro de lo abstracto, usando esta plataforma como un espacio para crear significados múltiples e imaginarios. 

Exhibition Continues through July 31 in the Kraft Gallery

Curated by Emanuel Aguilar

Funded by:
Chicago Park District
Illinois Arts Council Agency
City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

Basta! – Exhibition and Symposium (May 5th, NYC)

From: The Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA)

The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery 
at John Jay College of Criminal Justice 
proudly presents the exhibition


Curated by Claudia Calirman and Isabela Villanueva 

 Exhibit web

May 5 – July 15, 2016

with an opening reception on 
Thursday, May 5,2016 
from 6:00-8:00pm

Basta! features works in a variety of media by Latin American artists Ivan Argote (Colombia), Marcelo Cidade (Brazil), Regina Galindo (Guatemala), Anibal Lopez (Guatemala), Teresa Margolles (Mexico),Jose Carlos Martinat (Peru), Yucef Merhi (Venezuela), Alice Miceli (Brazil), Mondongo (Juliana Laffitte and Manuel Mendanha -Argentina), Moris (Mexico), Armando Ruiz (Colombia), Giancarlo Scaglia (Peru), Javier Tellez (Venezuela), and Juan Toro (Venezuela).

They address topics such as crime, vandalism, transgression, gender-based violence, illegal immigration, drug cartels and state power.


For more information please contact:

The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
860 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019


Symposium: Thursday, May 5, 2016

in the Moot Court: 
John Jay College of Criminal Justice New Building, 524 west 59th street 
(between 10th and 11th avenues, 6th Floor) 
from 3-6 pm


Followed by an Opening Reception  at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery from 6-8pm

Speakers:  Estrellita Brodsky, Gustavo Buntinx,  Claudia Calirman, Cecilia Fajardo-Hill,  Gabriela Rangel, Isabela Villanueva, and  artists Mondongo and Javier Tellez

This symposium offers a discussion among Latin American scholars and artists on responses to art and violence in Latin America today. The challenge is how to render brutality in the visual arts without adding more dismay to it. How to represent violence without aestheticizing it to the level of the banal? How to honor the death of those who were destitute of legal and political representation? How can artists address the region’s rampant corruption, social inequality, crime, the unlawful operations imposed by the drug cartels in a responsible way, given the paradoxical dilemma: How to visually address what is beyond representation?

 Keynote Speaker: Gustavo Buntinx

“Poetics of the Remains: Melancholies of Violence in Contemporary Peruvian Art” 

For more information please contact:

The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
860 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10019



The Met, Fifth Avenue: Collecting the Arts of Mexico

From: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Nicolás Enríquez (Mexican, 1704–1790) The Virgin of Guadalupe with the Four Apparitions, 1773 Mexican, Oil on copper; 22 1/4 × 16 1/2 in. (56.5 × 41.9 cm) Framed: 25 1/4 × 19 7/8 × 1 3/8 in. (64.1 × 50.5 × 3.5 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and several members of The Chairman's Council Gifts, 2014 (2014.173)

Nicolás Enríquez (Mexican, 1704–1790)
The Virgin of Guadalupe with the Four Apparitions, 1773, Mexican, Oil on copper; 22 1/4 × 16 1/2 in. (56.5 × 41.9 cm) Framed: 25 1/4 × 19 7/8 × 1 3/8 in. (64.1 × 50.5 × 3.5 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest and several members of The Chairman’s Council Gifts, 2014 (2014.173)

Exhibition Overview

In 1911, Emily Johnston de Forest gave her collection of pottery from Mexico to the Metropolitan Museum. Calling it “Mexican maiolica,” she highlighted its importance as a North American artistic achievement. De Forest was the daughter of the Museum’s first president and, with her husband, Robert, a founder of The American Wing. The De Forests envisioned building a collection of Mexican art, and, even though their ambitions were frustrated at the time, the foundational gift of more than one hundred pieces of pottery anchors the Met’s holdings. Today, more than a century later, their vision resonates as the Museum commits to collecting and exhibiting not just the arts of Mexico, but all of Latin America. This exhibition highlights the early contributions of the De Forests and others, and presents recent additions to the collection for the first time.

At The Met Fifth Avenue through August 7th


Fixing Shadows: Contemporary Peruvian Photography, 1968–2015

Fixing Shadows: Contemporary Peruvian Photography, 1968–2015

April 23, 2016 – July 3, 2016

The Blanton Museum of Art presents Fixing Shadows: Contemporary Peruvian Photography, 1968–2015, featuring more than 40 works from a transformational period of artistic growth, political turmoil, and social engagement in Peru. Realized in collaboration with the university’s Harry Ransom Center, this exhibition will present photographs from their esteemed collection alongside new Blanton acquisitions. The exhibition further explores the influence of an important generation of photographers working in Peru during the 1970s and 1980s on the practices of a younger generation working since the 1990s. Fixing Shadows includes works by Fernando La RosaMariella Agois, Carlos DomínguezMilagros de la Torre, and Pablo Hare, among others.

Woman with child and photograph of missing husband

Loans from the Ransom Center’s Photography Collection and William P. Wright Collection of Peruvian Photography will comprise works by key artists active during the 1970s and 1980s, while the Blanton will present new acquisitions by artists working from the 1990s through the present. Together, the collections chronicle the history of Peruvian photography from the last five decades and will evidence changing attitudes concerning the role of the medium in relation to art and social justice in Peru from 1968 through 2015.


Works from the Harry Ransom Center

The William P. Wright Collection of Peruvian Photography consists of works by some of the most influential photographers working in the 1970s and 1980s in Peru, including Roberto Fantozzi, Mariella Agois, Billy Hare, Carlos Domínguez, and Jaime Rázuri, and was assembled by photographer and curator Fernando Castro. Before the 1970s, photography was widely considered to be a purely documentary medium. During the 1970s, however, photographers and critics worked hard to transform this notion, and photography began to assume a status on par with literature or painting as an artistic medium in its own right, producing artists and collectives dedicated to photography as a form of artistic self expression. In the 1980s, violence and political struggle devastated Peru as the Maoist insurgents, Sendero Luminoso (“Shining Path”) waged a brutal guerilla war against the Peruvian state. During this time, photojournalism assumed a role of great importance in the country, as photography provided not only crucial visual evidence of the violence taking place across Peru but also denounced it.


Works from the Blanton Museum of Art

WMiguel Grau, Bahia Torgugas, Ancash

The Blanton will present works by Peruvian photographers active from the 1990s through 2015 that both complement and expand upon themes developed by photographs from the Ransom Center’s collection. Many of these photographs are new acquisitions by the Blanton, all by artists that maintain strong connections to the visual and conceptual histories of photography in Peru. Works by Milagros de la Torre, Flavia Gandolfo, Luz Maria Bedoya, Pablo Hare, Edi Hirose, Gilda Mantilla, Raimond Chavez, and others, will address the intricacies of Peruvian history and the country’s national identity, both within Peru and around the globe. This exhibition is organized by the Blanton Museum of Art in collaboration with the Harry Ransom Center.  […]

Image captions:

Domínguez, Carlos “Chino”
Madre e hijo con foto de padre desaparecido. Ayacucho, Perú
[Woman with child and photograph of missing husband. Ayacucho, Peru]
Gelatin silver print
14 x 10.9 in
Gift of William P. Wright, Jr., From the exhibition The Peruvians As Seen By Peruvian Photographers, curated by Fernando Castro and made available by the Texas Humanities Resource Center, a division of the Texas Committee for the Humanities, Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Center

Hare, Pablo.
Miguel Grau, Bahía Tortugas, Ancash, de la serie Monumentos, 2005-2012
[Miguel Grau, Bahía Tortugas, Ancash, from the series Monuments, 2005-2012]
Inkjet print on fiber paper
11.5 x 14.5 in
Blanton Museum of Art, Gift of the artist and purchase through the generosity of Jeanne and Michael Klein, Kathleen Irvin Loughlin and Christopher Loughlin, and Anthony and Celeste Meier, 2016


Birdman of Assisi: Art and the Apocalyptic in the Colonial Andes


Birdman of Assisi: Art and the Apocalyptic in the Colonial Andes

By Jaime Lara

2016 | 355 + xiv pp. | 218 ills. | 978-0-86698-529-1 | Hardcover  7 x 10 in

This volume examines images and beliefs related to birdmen among Incas and other peoples of South America, and the transformation of that phenomena in the colonial era by Christian missionaries. The author brings to light previously-unknown images of Saint Francis of Assisi with wings, flying through the air as a militant angel of the Apocalypse. Although commissioned by the Franciscan friars, these works of painting and sculpture were executed by native artists with native sensibilities. They reveal a social critique of colonial society, an expectation of an approaching end of the world, and a controversial role for Francis of Assisi at a final cosmic battle. Natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, combined with mythology, prophecy, piety and public performance, assert a “Franciscan exceptionalism” at a crucial time in Latin American history. A side trip to colonial Mexico reveals that similar dynamics were occurring there, but with different artistic solutions. Birdman of Assisi documents how a beloved medieval saint gained new life among Incas and other native civilizations of the Americas, and continues to fascinate their descendants today.

Richly illustrated with 218 full-color images.


Images Take Flight: Feather Art in Mexico and Europe


Please join us Sunday, April 3rd at 2:00 pm at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Brown Auditorium for a special event titled, “Images Take Flight: Feather Art in Mexico and Europe.” Marking the release of this much awaited publication on Mexico’s feather art, curator Ilona Katzew will moderate a roundtable discussion with authors Diana Fane, Ellen Pearlstein, and Gerhard Wolf. Highly valued since ancient times, feather mosaics captured the imagination of Europeans because of the iridescence of the feathers and the great skill with which they were applied. The distinguished authors will discuss this tradition from ancient to contemporary times, as well as the technique and materials employed to create these striking objects. The program will be followed by a book signing on the Los Angeles Times Central Court, outside the LACMA Store.
For more information, please visit:

Courtesy of Ellen A. Dooley, Assistant Curator of Latin American Art


ALAA at CAA 2016

FullSizeRenderThe 104th Annual College Art Association Conference was held February 3-6, 2016 in Washington D.C. The Art Museum of the Americas hosted a reception for scholars and friends of Latin American art that included a gallery talk by curator Dr. Abigail McEwan, who spoke about the current exhibit, Streams of Being.

In addition, ALAA organization sponsored two sessions:

“New Geographies of Abstract Art in Postwar Latin America,” Co-Chairs: Mariola V. Alvarez, Colby College; Ana M. Franco, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá

  • Jennifer Josten, University of Pittsburgh, “Carlos Mérida’s Cold War Abstraction”
  • Maria-Laura Steverlynck “Public Lifescapes: Gonzalo Fonseca’s Designs for Life and Play (1964-1969)”
  • Lauran Vanessa Bonilla-Merchav “Fighting for the Abstract: Manuel de la Cruz González and Geometric Abstraction in Costa Rica”
  • Abigail J. McEwen, University of Maryland, “Con los ojos de sus pechos ella lo observa: Zilia Sánchez’s Mural in Cement”
  • Camila Maroja, Brown University, “Vontade Construtiva: Latin America’s Sensitive Geometry”

“Emerging Scholars,” Chair: Maya S. Stanfield-Mazzi, University of Florida

  • Ximena Alexandra Gomez, University of Michigan, “Our Lady of Copacabana in Early Colonial Lima: Investigating an Indigenous Confraternity’s Statue of the Virgin”
  • Georgina G. Gluzman, Universidad de San Andrés, “Looking for the “Modern Woman Artist”: The French Example and its Reception in Fin-de-Siècle Buenos Aires”
  • Michel Otayek, New York University, “Lights and Shadows in the Hinterlands: Ethnographic Endeavors of Grete Stern and Bárbara Brändli in 1960s Argentina and Venezuela”

And many other ALAA members contributed to panels and sessions throughout the conference. Congratulations to all our members who presented at this year’s CAA conference!

Arvey Book Award

The Arvey Book Award was announced by Charlene Villaseñor Black of UCLA, chair of the Association of Latin American Art Book Award Committee, who spoke on behalf of the committee which also included Professor Tatiana Flores of Rutgers University and Kimberly Jones of the Dallas Museum of Art. The committee offered the following words:

We are delighted to be here to announce this year’s winner of the Annual Margaret Arvey Foundation Award for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America from the Pre-Columbian era to the present. This is the thirteenth year that the award is being given, and it was an exceptional year. We had 17 excellent submissions this year, making our job to choose one winner difficult – although the reading was very pleasurable. The number of submissions and their high quality speak to the vibrancy of the study of Latin American art. We would like to thank Professor Patricia Sarro and President Elisa Mandell, who offered advice to us throughout the process. A very special thanks is due to Margaret Arvey, for funding this prestigious award and for her continued support for the study of Latin American Art. Without her, this award would not be possible.

The committee is honored to present the Winner of the Thirteenth Annual ALAA Margaret Arvey Foundation Award for the best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America – Barbara E. Mundy, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City (UT Press, 2015).

9780292766563Mundy’s extremely learned, sweeping new history of the transformation of the Aztec capitol of Tenochitlan in the wake of Conquest breaks new ground with its extensive new research on the city as well as its theoretical innovation. To summarize its focus, allow me to quote the author herself: “In 1521, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan died. In 1521, Mexico City was born, and it lives today.”

Mundy’s innovations here distinguish this study. In contrast to earlier histories of the city, which focused on its destruction in the 16th century, she brings to light indigenous Nahua survivals and contributions to its remaking after 1521. She employs a rich array of primary sources — codices, maps, texts, sculptures, architecture, ceremonies. She theorizes the city’s transformation, employing three key concepts drawn from Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau: spatial practice, representational space, and lived space. She convincingly demonstrates that indigenous influence on the built environment has previously been seriously underestimated.

A major emphasis in her text is the importance of water in Tenochtitlan-Mexico City – an island in a lake, surrounded by other lakes. She considers the city’s waterworks, or its hydrographic profile, dating back to the 15th century and into the late 16th. She suggests the importance of water imagery in the self-presentation of Nahua rulers, re-reading such important monuments as sculptures of the water diety Chalchuitlicue, and the so-called Throne of Motecuzoma II.

Continued native control over the environment of Tenochtitlan/Mexico City was, of course, dependent on alliances with the conquerors, and in particular, with the Franciscans. Mundy carefully documents these alliances, as well as the important roles played by native city leaders throughout the sixteenth century. She concludes with a consideration of memory and the old city, a poignant corrective of historical amnesia that has erased indigenous contributions to and memories of its spaces. As she notes, cities can be destroyed – their buildings razed — but spaces live forever. Mundy’s magisterial study of the spaces of Tenochtitlan-Mexico City will similarly live on in our memory for decades as a model for how to approach art and architectural history.

Congratulations, Professor Mundy!

This year’s selection process was difficult, given the many outstanding selections we received. In fact, it was so difficult that this year, in addition to the award winner, we have chosen another book to be given an honorable mention.

This year’s winner of Honorable Mention is Claudia L. Brittenham’s The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico. University of Texas Press, Austin, 2015.

9780292760899The Murals of Cacaxtla: The Power of Painting in Ancient Central Mexico presents a vivid analysis of a distinctive Epiclassic (650-950 CE) site situated firmly within an interactive and artistically flourishing Mesoamerican landscape. The author, Claudia Brittenham, guides the reader across the historical and spatial layout of Cacaxtla, progressing through seven chapters dedicated to relatively successive mural programs at the site. The individual murals are examined in detail, with Brittenham addressing many of the crucial interpretive questions that arise from such explorations, drawing richly on local, regional and historical comparisons. The study is thus both intensely focused on a particular site and its unique mural arts while also genuinely comprehensive in placing Cacaxtla within its Mesoamerican cultural sphere.

While the book is thoroughly illustrated with a striking number of color photographs, the success of the volume arises foremost through the author’s engaging text and thorough approach to the mural scenes. Throughout her study, Brittenham invites the reader to engage with her in exploring the import and impact of such impressive Mesoamerican mural arts. The reader comes away from the volume with a comprehensive vision of Cacaxtla, its monumental facades and their effect within the local and cultural Mesoamerican landscape. We are thus delighted to recognize this contribution to the field of art history as Honorable Mention in the 2016 ALAA Book Awards.

Thanks to everyone who attended this year’s CAA. Look for 2016 Business Meeting minutes to be included in the next newsletter and ongoing announcements via the listserv!