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Volume 52 / 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 REVIEWED FOR THIS VOLUME OF HLAS once again offers a wide range of methodological approaches to the subject, ranging from general surveys by continent, country, or region, to detailed monographs on a single monument. In general, a high standard of scholarship is evident, reflecting the formal training in art and architectural history by a new generation of scholars. An increasing number of fine quality publications with excellent color plates facilitates a better appreciation of the rich artistic and architectural heritage of the colonial period.

Leading the list of noteworthy books is Damián Bayón and Murillo Marx's Historia del arte colonial sudamericano (item bi 92008397), which despite its more limited scope rivals Santiago Sebastián, José de Mesa Figueroa and Teresa Gisbert's Arte iberoamericano desde la colonización a la independencia (Madrid, 1986, see HLAS 50:191). Written in collaboration with Myriam Ribeiro de Oliveira, Aurea Pereira da Silva and Hugo Segawa, Bayón and Marx's book provides a comprehensive survey of colonial architecture, painting, and sculpture in South America. Wherever possible, factual information is combined with critical commentaries guiding the reader to specific sources in the bibliography. Another important survey is the new edition of the pioneer work by Alfredo Benavides Rodríguez, La arquitectura en el Virreinato del Perú y en la Capitanía General de Chile (item bi 90003421). Totally revised and updated with a new bibliography and improved visual material, this book now provides reliable information on urban centers and lesser-known rural areas in Peru and Chile.

Santiago Sebastián's El barroco iberoamericano (item bi 92008447) may be singled out as an exceptional work entirely devoted to studies in iconography and iconology of Spanish and Portuguese American art and architecture. With painstaking rigor, the author thematically discusses the sources and meanings underlying works of art. It will serve as a methodological model for future studies.

Regional studies such as Patrick Rouillard's Boyacá (item bi 90003411), Ramón Gutiérrez's Evolución urbana y arquitectónica de Corrientes (item bi 90003417), and Luis Enrique Tord's Arequipa artística y monumental (item bi 92008937) fill important voids in the field with a wealth of written and visual documentation on the subjects discussed. An outstanding book on a single monument is Germán Franco Salamanca's Templo de Santa Clara, Bogotá (item bi 90003420).

Even though the vast majority of titles deal with architecture and urbanism, monographs on painting and sculpture are well represented by Jorge Bernales Ballesteros et al.'s Pintura en el Virreinato del Perú (item bi 92008573), Francisco Gil Tovar et al.'s Los Figueroa: aproximación a su época y a su pintura (item bi 90003412), and Carlos F. Duarte's Historia de la escultura en Venezuela: época colonial (item bi 90003416). On the other hand, Sara Bomchil and Virginia Carreño's El mueble colonial de las Américas y su circunstancia histórica (item bi 90003423) is a major contribution to a topic woefully neglected in the literature of colonial Latin American art.

Special mention should be made of the extraordinary contributions made by the Spanish government (sometimes in collaboration with national institutions of Latin American countries) toward cultural events and publications celebrating the quincentennial of the discovery of the Americas. Several series pertaining to art and architecture of the colonial period have been included in the "Biblioteca Quinto Centenario." For instance, volumes 4, 5, and 7 of Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón's Trujillo del Perú al fines del siglo XVII were released between 1989-90, thus nearly completing the splendid facsimile publication initiated by Ediciones Cultura Hispánica in 1978 (see HLAS 50:249). The Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana has also sponsored the handsome "Colección Ciudades Iberoamericanas," featuring photographic albums and essays on individual cities. Volumes in this series published to date include La Habana (1986), Lima (1987, item bi 92008935), Sucre (1989), Quito (1989), San Juan de Puerto Rico (1989), Potosí (1990), Cartegena de Indias (1990), and Santo Domingo (1990).

Historic preservation and restoration projects conducted under the auspices of international organizations (e.g., UNESCO, The Organization of American States) in collaboration with national institutions (e.g., Peru's Instituto Nacional de Cultura, Instituto Colombiano de Cultura, Instituto Boliviano de Cultura) have produced a number of technical reports containing valuable information on historic buildings and works of art (items bi 92008403, bi 90003420, bi 92008573, and bi 90003419). Germán Franco Salamanca's book, mentioned above (item bi 90003420), is a masterful synthesis of the history of a single monument, which also describes the restoration works and the criteria that guided them. This type of publication will become critical for future studies of historic monuments undergoing restoration.

A final word of recognition should go to a few academic institutions and private individuals in South America who, with very limited resources and against all odds, continue to contribute to the vital dissemination of scholarly research in the field. Although usually modest in their format and unpretentious in their circulation size, in most cases they have to be acknowledged as the only publications of their type in their respective countries. Journals that fall within this category include DANA (Documentos de Arquitectura Nacional y Americana published in Resistencia, Argentina, by the Instituto Argentino de Investigaciones en Historia de la Arquitectura y el Urbanismo under the direction of Ramón Gutiérrez and Ricardo J. Alexander; and, of more recent creation, DAU (Documentos de Arquitectura y Urbanismo) under the direction of Pedro Belaúnde, and HUACA (Revista de la Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo, y Artes de la Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería), both published in Lima, Peru. Let us hope that these and other similar publications will enjoy a prolonged life for years to come.

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