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date: 15 October 2019

Art biennials in Latin Americalocked

  • Iliana Cepero


Latin American art has held a strong place in the international market since the 1990s, with markedly less speculation than other geographic areas, such as in China. However, the growth of international exhibitions in Latin America has helped to increase the visibility of modern and contemporary Latin American artists on the global stage, both expanding awareness of regional traditions and dispelling stereotypical notions of a monocultural Latin American style.

The São Paulo Art Biennial, the second oldest art biennial in the world, was founded in 1951 under the auspices of the Italian Brazilian industrialist and arts patron Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho (also known as Ciccillo Matarazzo) and his wife Yolanda Penteado. Initially conceived as an extension of the then recently established Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (1948), the Biennial aimed to provide knowledge of contemporary art trends—primarily from Europe and the United States—to the Brazilian art world while also spotlighting Brazil as an international contemporary art center. Modeled after the Venice Biennale, the São Paulo Biennial in its early years was organized around national pavilions (“National Representations”) exhibiting works from Brazilian artists and those from countries participating in the event via diplomatic invitation. In the early 2000s this format was completely abandoned; only the display of Brazilian art works and international exhibitions organized by rotating chief curators remained. Since ...

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