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Volume 56 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries

BELIGICA RODRIGUEZ, Associate Professor of Latin American Art, University Central de Venezuela; Director, Art Museum of the Americas, Organization of American States

DUE TO THE RECENT BOOM in Latin America art, publications in the field have increased. For instance, for HLAS 52 I had the opportunity to review more than 200 items while for this volume I looked at more than 300. Using a systematic selection process, I narrowed these original 300 items down to 200 which I carefully reviewed; from that group 130 were ultimately selected for inclusion here. Due to the Handbook's space limitations not all the worthwile publications could be included; I tried to cover the most representative. As I wrote in my introduction to HLAS 52, the Latin American bibliography can no longer be considered minor in comparison to other regions: the artistic development of the region has spurred more books, catalogs, and other publications. Mexico is the country with the most entries, followed by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela. Other countries and regions, namely Ecuador, Peru, Central America, and the Caribbean are also well represented, with interest in the latter two continuing to grow. In terms of theoretical reflection and aesthetical proposals, there are a few important books which enrich the field: Hacia una teoría americana de arte (item bi 93009866); De la plástica cubana y caribeña by Yolanda Wood (item bi 93009870); and Modernidade: vanguardas artísticas na América Latina compiled by Ana Maria Moraes Belluzzo (item bi 93009868).

Both the development and promotion of Latin American art require the field to support and improve its publications. Unfortunately current publications are directed almost solely at Spanish-speaking specialists; there are very few bilingual or English-language editions. This situation has handicapped art historians and art critics outside of Latin America who do not speak Spanish. Perhaps this lack of interest in the Spanish language is indicative of a more general lack of interest in the culture of the so-called Third World. To counteract this trend, it is important that Latin American art critics and historians begin to publish consistently in languages other than Spanish. Another problem which complicates dissemination of our research is the poor publications distribution system within Latin America: it is difficult to find or buy an artistic publication outside the country of its publication. It is high time to address this problem and form networks to alleviate it.

Notwithstanding the above, the number of entries seen and reviewed for this edition afford optimism as to the development of Latin America's artistic publications. One very informative and relevant publication is La peinture de l'Amérique latine au XXe siècle: identité et modernité (item bi 92019474) by Damián Bayón and Roberto Pontual, two distinguished Latin American scholars who address the subject from a new historical and theoretical position, that of identity and modernity. Another important publication is Romualdo Grughetti's Nueva historia de la pintura y la escultura en la Argentina: de los orígenes a nuestros días (item bi 92019470), an exhaustive study which gives a comprehensive history of both painting and sculpture in Argentina. I would also like to mention Luis Camnitzer's New art of Cuba (item bi 94002420), an English-language treatise on Cuban art, both inside and outside the country, which is well documented, illustrated and written.

In conclusion it can be said that Latin American publications on art have been improving continually. My main criticism is that, as in HLAS 52, most of the monographs treat the region in isolation, without first building a framework from which to understand Latin American art in realation to other parts of the world. Scholars and art historians have started to address this question; I hope that the next biennium will see these works in published form.

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