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Volume 50 / Humanities


Colonial: South America

HUMBERTO RODRIGUEZ-CAMILLONI, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Theory and History of Architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

THE LITERATURE ON THE COLONIAL ART of Spanish South America examined for this volume of HLAS reveals a variety of approaches to the study of the subject. Indispensable surveys providing basic information on major monuments probably still represent the majority of publications annotated below, works that continue to fill critical gaps for different periods and localities (items bi 89001886, bi 89001890, bi 89001893, bi 89001896, bi 89001899, and bi 89001901). However, as a new generation of young scholars trained in art history or related disciplines enters the field, more emphasis will be placed on very much needed comparative studies that stress stylistic analysis and interpretation (items bi 89001730, bi 89001850, bi 89001910, and bi 89001913). Critical surveys of the historiography of art and architectural history in Venezuela and Peru (items bi 89001898 and bi 89001915) constitute a recent development that one hopes will soon include other countries as well.

Santiago Sebastián López, José de Mesa Figueroa, and Teresa Gisbert de Mesa have made the outstanding contribution to this section with Arte iberoamericano desde la colonización a la Independencia, published in two magnificent volumes in the Summa Artis series (item bi 89001731). The work is a model of scholarship that supersedes the classic general surveys by Diego Angulo Iñiguez and Enrique Marco Dorta, now out of print. It will serve as the standard reference for future generations of researchers.

Qualitatively as well as quantitatively, architectural studies continue to prevail over the other visual arts. This can be attributed to the growing number of architects and urban historians that generate such literature because of their specialized training in historic research and other techniques related to historic preservation (items bi 89001893, bi 89001899, bi 89001904, and bi 89001905). Many of these publications reflect progress attained in techniques such as how to record historic buildings, which often incorporate methods drawn from related disciplines such as historic archaeology.

Major historic preservation projects have been initiated through the sponsorship of international institutions such as UNESCO (items bi 89001907 and bi 89001908) and the OAS. These have included the creation of regional restoration and conservation centers (e.g., Cusco, Lima), where special training seminars have attracted the participation of professionals throughout the hemisphere. At the national level, federal governments through their ministries of education and culture continue to engage teams of professionals in inventories of their artistic patrimonies by establishing data-base centers in capital cities (e.g., Lima, Quito, Bogotá). Private organizations, especially banks (e.g., Banco Industrial del Perú, Banco Central del Ecuador, Banco Cafetero de Colombia) have not only contributed to the restoration of historic monuments but own and operate important colonial art collections that are open to the public, and have also promoted the conservation of the national patrimony through several handsome publications (items bi 89001895, bi 89001907, bi 89001908, and bi 89001914).

In order to commemorate the forthcoming celebration of the quincentennial of the discovery of the Americas, the government of Spain is promoting a wide variety of cultural events and several important publications. In particular, the Centro Iberoamericano de Cooperación, through its deluxe Ediciones Cultura Hispánica, has released the splendid first volumes of La Obra del Obispo Martínez Compañón sobre Trujillo del Perú en el siglo XVIII (item bi 89001902), reproducing in facsimile the famous collection of hundreds of color drawings deposited at the Royal Library of Madrid. Thus the only encyclopedic pictorial record of its kind of 18th-century Perú is now finally available for the use of scholars and researchers.

The Comisión de Estudios Históricos de Obras Públicas y Urbanismo of the Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas sponsored an international seminar on the historic development of forts and fortifications in America and the Philippines (Madrid, June 1984), the proceedings of which are annotated in the general colonial section (item bi 89001729). This important event also featured an exhibition of illustrated panels on the theme of the seminar. Of related interest is the travelling exhibition "El Caribe Fortificado," consisting of 60 handsome black and white and color panels designed by architect Ramón Paolini Valderama from Caracas, Venezuela.

Two important symposia recently held in the US should also be mentioned, both of which were noteworthy for the international scope of the topics that were addressed and the high quality of the papers presented by a distinguished group of scholars from various disciplines. The first, sponsored by the Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies and the School of Architecture of the Univ. of Maryland and entitled "Settlements in the Americas: Cross Cultural Perspectives" (College Park, Md., March 1986), was designed to examine development of American settlements during the colonial period in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In particular, the symposium analyzed ways in which different types of settlements responded to indigenous influences and transmuted European ones as they developed their distinctive styles and shapes.

A second symposium sponsored by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture at Columbia Univ. (New York, Oct. 1987) was concerned with "Hispanic Traditions in American Architecture" and sought "to identify significant and evolving influences of Hispanic culture in American architecture and urbanism, both past and present; to promote scholarship within this field of study; and to encourage a productive ongoing dialogue between North American, Latin American, and Spanish scholars and professionals." In conjunction with this event, a fine travelling exhibition of illustrated panels with English and Spanish texts also was prepared by the organizers of the symposium under the direction of Robert A.M. Stern and Susana Torre. It is anticipated that the proceedings of these two symposia will be published in the near future.

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