Three books to get you started in Latin American art

Posted on October - 5 - 2016

How much do you know about Latin American Art? If the answer is no, then we have a list for you to familiarize yourself with the topic. Although, browsing through essays and curatorial texts keeps you updated and offer new perspectives on the matter, if you want to have a better understanding of the whole subject, it’s always better to start from the beginning.

In this article we offer a concise and short list centering in a general chronological survey, therefore we are not making contemporary Latin America art the priority, where critics like Mari Carmen Ramirez and Gerardo Mosquera, are some of the leading authors. So without further ado, here are some books that are relatively easy to get by and promise a good grasp on the complex subject.

“Art of Latin America, 1900-1980”, Marta Traba

The figure of renown critic Marta Traba has become mythical in the art world. Born in Argentina, the art critic moved to Colombia after studying Art History in Paris. She became a propeller in Columbia’s art scene as a professor, fierce critic and eventually having an important part in the creation of the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá. Known for being an eloquent and unforgiving writer, Traba offers new insights on the work of Latin America’s key artists of the 20th Century. This book is an excellent addition to any collection and vital for understanding the past century’s development in art through an informed and knowledgeable source.


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“Latin American Art of the 20th Century”, Edward Lucie-Smith

There are few writers as prolific as Edward Lucie-Smith, who has written over a hundred books on multiple subjects, although always having a clear preference for art history. In this book, Lucie-Smith offers a comprehensive review of the main themes found in Latin American Art, the social-political situations of particular moments and their relationship with creative production. In the second edition of the book, Lucie-Smith added a chapter where he refers to certain leading contemporary artists. If you can find the latest versions, it would offer a complete guide to connect the not so distant past with the present state of the art scene.


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“Twentieth-Century Art of Latin America”, Jacqueline Barnitz

If there is someone who knows about art in Latin America, it’s Professor Jacqueline Barnitz. She has been teaching at the University of Texas at Austin for more than 25 years and has been a key figure in making UT prestigious worldwide for its studies in Latin American art. She published the first edition in 2001 and in 2014 the second edition offered a revised version and new art from the 1900’s. It has become mandatory reading for anyone interested in the subject.

By: Gabriela Martínez


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