Published in the magazine Arte en Colombia in 1989, the article “Arte en América Latina” by Chilean critic and researcher Miguel Rojas Mix (b. 1934) is striking for various reasons. It was published in a section of the magazine entitled Cartas desde Londres, or Letters from London, in which important Latin American scholars were asked to provide the Colombian readership with an overview of the arts in countries in Europe and in North America, thus making evident the tensions between Colombian and international art. The article describes the components of the show Art in Latin America heldat the Hayward Gallery in London (1989), which—in the context of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America—was one of the most important exhibitions as it introduced the history of Latin American art to one of Europe’s central institutions. This text is fundamental to revealing the mechanisms by which Latin American art was made visible.
In September 1989, the magazine Arte en Colombia published a series of articles that discussed exhibitions of Latin American art in the framework of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. There are commonalities between the point of view in this article—“Arte en América Latina” by Rojas Mix—and those expressed in “América Latina: Arte e Identidad” by Germán Rubiano [see 1091081]; “¡Mira!: Diferencias en el arte norteamericano y latinoamericano” by Leslie Judd Ahlander ; and “El Espíritu Latinoamericano: La perspectiva desde los Estados Unidos” by Shifra M. Goldman . All of these texts critically discuss the processes by which a monolithic and externally defined notion of Latin American art is made visible.
All of the aforementioned authors examine the curatorial visions, funding processes, categories deployed, organization, politics of representation, as well as artists and works selected on the basis of a definition of “art in Latin American” in a wide range of exhibitions held in 1989. The set of articles published in Arte en Colombia is essential to understanding the history of Latin America art collecting in the United States. The articles also formulate a criticism of the following exhibitions: Art of the Fantastic: Latin America 1920–1987 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Images of Mexico: The Contribution of Mexico to 20th-Century Art; Chicano Arts: Resistance and Affirmation at the Wight Gallery of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA); Latin American Art since Independence at the Hayward Gallery in London; Latin American Artists in the United States before 1950 at the University of Texas at Austin, held from 1981 to 1987, as well as Latin American Artists in the United States 1950-1970 and Latin American Artists in New York since 1970 also held at the University of Texas at Austin during the same period; Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art at MoMA in New York; The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920- 1970 at the Bronx Museum of Art; Rooted Visions: Mexican Art Today; Puerto Rican Painting Between the Present and the Past at the museum of the Universidad de Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras campus); and ¡Mira! at the Canadian Club of Hispanic Art.