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Article

Abigail Winograd

Museums have played a central role in the cultural life of Latin American countries from independence to the present. Art museums in particular have featured prominently in civic, nation-building discourse throughout the region, with the opening of such museums often occurring concurrently with major economic and political changes. Museums, wherever they were founded, helped shape collective and social understanding; they were the institutions par excellence in which hegemonic cultural realities could be defined and reflected.

In the 19th century, countries across the Americas gained their independence from European colonial powers. The newly founded republics urgently felt the need to distance themselves from their colonial pasts and endeavored to establish and construct new national identities. Latin American artists and governments began a concerted effort to celebrate their independence through arts and culture. Both paintings (the preferred form) and cultural institutions aimed to create and promote a usable past: a history replete with heroes, founding myths, and “indigenous” symbols of patriotism. These founding myths favored large-scale history paintings, portraits of liberators, and romantic landscapes, housed in museums built by local elites and governments who understood cultural institutions (art museums as well as encyclopedic museums) to be ideal locations to enshrine the project of a cohesive national identity....

Article

Elisa García Barragán

(b Barcelona, 1810; d Barcelona, Sept 13, 1880).

Catalan painter and teacher, active in Mexico. He studied in Madrid and Barcelona and at the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca in Rome under Tommaso Minardi, where he learnt the principles of classicism. He was an admirer of Friedrich Overbeck, the leader of the Nazarenes, and was also influenced by Ingres. He was appointed Director of Painting at the Academia de San Carlos, Mexico City, and moved there in 1846 with the Catalan sculptor Manuel Vilar. Together they reorganized the Academia and its syllabus to provide more adequate training, including drawing from nature, anatomy, landscape, perspective and the use of live models. They also held regular exhibitions at the Academia. The purist and classical European approach of the course, which was initiated in January 1847, greatly impressed Mexican critics. Clavé was an excellent portraitist, depicting many leading political and society figures (e.g. Andrés Quintana Roó, 1851; priv. col.), and he encouraged his students to follow his example of technical skill, conviction of form and line, harmonious composition, elegance, simplicity and nobility of subject....

Article

American contemporary art museum in Miami, FL. The de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space was built and funded by Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz to house their collection of art. Born in Cuba, Rosa and Carlos moved to the USA in 1960. Carlos subsequently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and by 1975 they had moved to Miami. The couple began to collect art for their home; initially focusing on Latin American artists, they broadened their scope to include all contemporary art. Eventually they amassed a collection of over 700 pieces that form an important collection of global contemporary art.

The de la Cruzes regularly opened their Key Biscayne home to the public, and in 2009 they opened the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space—a three-storey, 30,000 sq. ft multi-purpose facility in Miami’s Design District, designed by the architect John Marquette. While this public art space houses approximately one-third of the de la Cruz collection, annual exhibitions continue to be held at the couple’s home and at other satellite locations open to the public....

Article

Henry Adams

(b Veracruz, Mar 13, 1880; d Stamford, CT, Jan 10, 1961).

Mexican illustrator, writer, gallery owner, and publisher, active in the USA. He was the son of a wealthy Mexican lawyer and publisher. De Zayas started his career as an artist by providing drawings for his father’s newspaper in Veracruz. In 1906 he moved on to Mexico City’s leading newspaper, El Diario, but a year later, after the ascension of the dictator Porfirio Diaz, whom the newspaper had opposed, he fled to the USA. There he landed a position making caricatures for the New York Evening World. Shortly after his arrival in the USA, he came into contact with Alfred Stieglitz, who staged solo shows of De Zayas’s caricatures at his gallery Gallery 291 in 1909 and 1910, both of which proved to be huge popular successes.

In 1910 De Zayas traveled to Paris, where he stayed almost a year, scouting out adventurous forms of modern art for Stieglitz, notably the cubist work of Picasso and African sculpture. On his return, equipped with knowledge of European modern art and inspired by the work of the French modernist ...

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Paris, April 18, 1768; d Paris, June 28, 1848).

French painter and draughtsman, active in Brazil. When very young he accompanied his cousin, Jacques-Louis David, on a trip to Italy from which he returned in 1785. He then enrolled in the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris, initially following parallel studies in civil engineering but soon devoting himself to painting. Between 1798 and 1814 he entered several of the annual Paris Salons with historical or allegorical paintings, Neo-classical in both spirit and form, for instance Napoleon Decorating a Russian Soldier at Tilsit (1808; Versailles, Château). He also collaborated at this time with the architects Charles Percier and Pierre-François Fontaine on decorative works. With the fall of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I, whom he greatly admired, he agreed to take part in the French artistic mission which left for Brazil in 1816. He stayed there longer than the rest of the group, returning to France only in ...

Article

Open-air painting schools developed in Mexico as artistic teaching projects for broad sections of the population during the period of the Revolution (1910–17). The first phase of their existence took place under Victoriano Huerta’s government (1913–14), and their structure was established under the government of Alvaro Obregón (1920–24). Alfredo Ramos Martínez was the project’s main promoter, supported by civil servants, intellectuals and artists. The precepts by which art was to be taught were based on those of John Dewey’s Action School in the USA; children and adolescents, farmers and factory workers were to meet and develop their own ideas with sincerity and simplicity, taking as their model the Barbizon school of landscape painting, with its devotion to contact with untamed nature. The first of the escuelas, situated at Santa Anita Ixtapalapa on the outskirts of Mexico City, was named Barbizon. Impressionism, a great deal of naive art and a certain involuntary expressionism were all blended together in the works of the students, who needed no formal qualifications to enter the schools. ...

Article

Pedro Querejazu

(b Cochabamba, 1846; d La Paz, 1911).

Bolivian painter. In 1864 he went to Europe to study painting. He remained there for some years, visiting Rome and working in Paris, where he had a studio. On his return to Bolivia, he worked for a time and then returned to Europe. In 1880 he offered his services as portrait painter to the newspaper El Comercio in La Paz, stating that he had founded an academy of drawing and painting in the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias y Letras. At this time he painted murals with religious themes for Cochabamba Cathedral. In 1882 the Musée du Louvre in Paris bought one of his paintings. In 1889 he took part in the Exposition Universelle in Paris and in the Salon d’Artistes Libres, where he obtained an honorable mention for his painting Lake Titicaca. His style was academic, with rigid figures in grandiose poses, painted in a limited range of cool colors. He frequently made use of photography to treat urban topics. While in Paris he painted large views of the principal cities of Bolivia, based on photographs, for example ...

Article

Sonia de Laforcade

(b Rio de Janeiro, April 4, 1933).

Brazilian printmaker, multimedia and video artist, and teacher. The daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Geiger initiated her artistic career studying drawing, painting, and engraving with the artist Fayga Ostrower (1920–2001) in Rio de Janeiro between 1949 and 1953. She began to participate in group exhibitions in 1950, displaying an early focus on informal abstraction inspired by Ostrower’s legacy. In 1954 she left Brazil to spend a year studying with the art historian Hannah Levy Deinhard (1912–84) at New York University, interrupting her studies in Anglo-Germanic linguistics and literature at the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia (now Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro). She resumed her course of study upon her return to Rio de Janeiro in 1955, graduating in 1957. Throughout the 1950s Geiger received a robust education in pedagogy, both in her classes with Ostrower and at the Faculdade, where she studied with the influential theorist of education Anísio Teixeira (...

Article

Mónica Martí Cotarelo

(b Alava, Spain, 1810; d Mexico City, 1872).

Spanish architect, painter and teacher, active in Mexico. He graduated as an architect from the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S Fernando, Madrid, but also worked in painting, sculpture and pastel miniatures. In 1836 he worked in Paris under Henri Labrouste, and in 1838 he went to Mexico City, where he opened a school of drawing. As one of the outstanding architects in Mexico at the time, he was made an académico de mérito of the Academia de S Carlos and its director of architecture. His chief work was the Teatro de Santa Anna (1842–4; later Teatro Nacional; destr. 1901), Mexico City, a Neo-classical building that was for a long time the most costly in the city. The principal façade had a portico with four large Corinthian columns rising through two storeys. He also rebuilt the dome (1845–8) of the side chapel of the church of S Teresa la Antigua, Mexico City. His solution was a Neo-classical dome supported by a double drum, producing interesting light effects in the interior. The windows of the upper drum, concealed by an incomplete vault rising from the lower one, illuminate paintings around the bottom of the dome. Few of his other works have survived....

Article

Genre of narrative painting depicting multi-figure scenes, particularly that which emerged with the foundation of royal and national academies of fine arts in Europe and the Americas, beginning in France in the mid-17th century.

Academies of fine arts in Europe and its colonies abroad as well as those of emerging nations designated history painting as the most noble and highest form of artist expression, as the main priority for an academy. History painting gained this status for the technical virtuosity it required and because it existed as an important vehicle for official and elite propaganda as well as the construction of state, imperial, and national identity.

The ability to produce a history painting began with a rigorous drawing education to master techniques of Western naturalism, including chiaroscuro, proportion, and linear perspective in order to enliven and valorize historical subjects that usually contained moral messages for a “public” audience. What began as a vehicle for nationalism and empire in Europe spread to the Spanish colonies by the late 18th century....

Article

Fine arts institutions with a structured curriculum led by professors or directors, financed by the Spanish monarchy in colonial times and national governments thereafter. Academies of fine arts in Latin America descend from mid-18th-century developments in Spain, which were based on the model of the French royal academies founded in the 17th century. The Spanish monarchy sponsored a number of drawing schools and three royal art academies in the second half of the 18th century, including the academies of S Fernando in Madrid (1752), S Carlos in Valencia (1768), and S Luis in Saragossa (1793). Academic practice could be distinguished from artistic training under an artist’s workshop in which apprentices lived with a master for a number of years and copied his or her style on a path to possibly obtaining a master artist’s status. In the academy, professors (or directors) led students in a structured curriculum organized around the idea of the ...

Article

Yasminy Pérez Silva

(b Caracas, Sept 10, 1890; d Caracas, April 16, 1948).

Venezuelan painter and art historian. He studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes, Caracas (1904–9), under Emilio Mauri (1855–1908) and Antonio Herrera Toro. In 1912 with Leoncio Martínez, Manuel Cabré and other artists, he co-founded the anti-academic group Círculo de Bellas Artes in Caracas. Between 1916 and 1919 he came into contact with the traveller-artists Samys Mützner, Nicolas Ferdinandov and Emilio Boggio; Mützner in particular offered helpful advice. In 1920, when Monsanto had established himself as a painter through his technical skill and clarity of concept (e.g. Seascape, 1920; Caracas, Gal. A.N.), he began to feel dissatisfied with his work and to call himself a ‘former painter’. He retired from painting, failing to develop work that had shown much promise, and between 1921 and 1928 he dedicated himself to enhancing his knowledge of art history. He also undertook the restoration of works of art, thereby maintaining his connection with painting. In ...

Article

Enrique Larrañaga

(b Caracas, Mar 20, 1922; d Caracas, Dec 19, 2008).

Venezuelan architect and educator. Sanabria is the most prominent figure among the second generation of Venezuelan architects formally trained in the discipline. Sanabria attended Engineering School in Caracas between 1941 and 1945. While working at a design and construction firm VRACA (Vegas y Rodríguez Amengual, Compañía Anónima), Sanabria’s talent was noticed by the owners, who sponsored him to study at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He graduated from Harvard in 1947 and returned to Venezuela the same year. Back in his native country, Sanabria joined the Department of Architecture and became the first Program Director of the School of Architecture, founded in 1954. In 1948 he opened the first local firm exclusively dedicated to design, with his friend and colleague Diego Carbonell. The partnership lasted until 1953 and stood out for its modern proposals, fine detailing, and environmental responses to the local conditions; qualities that, with a particular sense of both regional and urban scales, characterized Sanabria’s designs....

Article

Roberto Pontual

(Ferreira )

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1923; d Rio de Janeiro, 1973).

Brazilian painter, draughtsman and teacher. While studying engraving in 1946 with the Austrian Axel Leskoschek (b 1889) in Rio de Janeiro he worked in a figurative style but soon became one of the pioneers of concrete art in Brazil. In 1951 he was named best young national painter at the first São Paulo Biennale for his geometric constructions such as Formas (1951; U. São Paulo, Mus. A. Contemp.). He was the founder and prime mover of the Frente group of geometric artists in Rio de Janeiro. A trip to Italy and Spain awarded to him by the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, in 1957 led him first to a freer abstraction and subsequently to a type of Art informel that developed on his return to Brazil into an expressive and referential style similar to Cobra. His Animals and Darkness series of paintings and drawings (...

Article

Nelly Perazzo

(b Buenos Aires, Oct 13, 1847; d Buenos Aires, June 5, 1918).

Argentine painter. After travelling in Europe he returned to Buenos Aires in 1873, greatly impressed by Corot’s work. He studied at the Escuela Estímulo de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires under the Italian-born Argentine painters Francisco Romero (1840–1906) and José Aguyari (1843–85) before returning in 1882 to Europe, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi in Paris and produced paintings influenced by Jean-Paul Laurens. Among the paintings exhibited by him at the Salon in Paris from 1886 to 1891 was The Maid Getting Up (exh. 1887; Buenos Aires, Mus. N. B.A.), which by virtue of its subject-matter and naturalistic style was considered so revolutionary in Buenos Aires that it could be exhibited there only privately at the time.

Sívori was one of the first painters in Argentina to begin to free himself from the constraints of Italian and Spanish realism. In his later pictures on domestic themes, and in landscapes such as ...

Article

Enrique Larrañaga

(b Valencia, Mar 20, 1936; d Caracas, Dec 10, 2007).

Venezuelan architect and educator. After completing his architectural studies in 1957, Tenreiro spent a year in Europe, thanks to a scholarship from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. During that year he broadened his exposure to, and understanding of, architecture, philosophy, and other artistic fields.

Although only a small number of his buildings were ever constructed, Tenreiro is nonetheless considered a fundamental figure in Venezuelan architecture. And though he rarely wrote, lectured, or gave interviews he is regarded as an important intellectual authority in the country. He is also recognized as an inspiring educator, though he avoided creating a “school” of followers. His work is often related to that of Louis Kahn, although the two never met. His erudition was overwhelming, but his creative process appears to have been driven by a devotedly educated intuition. His courses often dealt with Jungian thought and archetypal theories, but these intellectual investigations were actually taken up years after completing most of his buildings. He referred to what now appears as an astonishingly coherent body of work as a “collections of fragments.” Indeed, Tenreiro’s legacy, in its multiplicity and diverse quality, is as admirable as not fully investigated....

Article

Ramón Alfonso Méndez Brignardello

(b Rome, c. 1740; d Santiago de Chile, 1799).

Italian architect, active in Chile. He began his career in the office of Francesco Sabbatini, who at that time was working for the Spanish authorities in Naples. In 1759 Charles IV of Naples assumed the Spanish throne as Charles III (reg 1759–88) and took Sabbatini to Madrid as architect to the Crown, together with his best assistants, including Toesca. Toesca’s career in Madrid was pursued under Sabbatini’s shadow, but he came into his own when he was seconded to Chile in 1778 to rebuild Santiago Cathedral, burnt down in 1769. Reusing the existing foundations, Toesca produced a Neo-classical design, now obscured by late 19th-century additions. His major work was the mint in Santiago, the Real Casa de Moneda, now the executive residence. The plan is laid out around several courtyards behind a Neo-classical elevation that features a three-storey central block in three bays flanked by two-storey wings. The central block is articulated below by four sets of coupled columns of a giant order, to which coupled pilasters correspond on the third floor. In lieu of columns, the six-bay wings are marked off by clustered pilasters and surmounted by a heavy balustrade. The composition recalls Luigi Vanvitelli’s backdrop to the Piazza Dante, which was going up in Naples while Toesca was working on ...

Article

Ramón Gutiérrez

(b Enguera, Valencia, 1757; d Mexico City, Dec 24, 1816).

Spanish architect, sculptor, and teacher, active in Mexico. He studied at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S Carlos, Valencia, at a time when Baroque forms were being rejected in Spain and Neo-classicism was being promoted. He was apprenticed to the sculptor José Puchol Rubio (d 1797), who also taught him extensively about architecture. In 1780 Tolsá moved to Madrid, where he studied under Juan Pascual de Mena and at the Real Academia de Bellas-Artes de S Fernando, where his subjects included painting. There he also designed several reliefs, including the Entry of the Catholic Kings into Granada (1784; Madrid, Real Acad. S Fernando). He was selected as an academician in 1789.

Following the endorsement of Juan Adán and Manuel Francisco Alvarez de la Peña, in 1790 Tolsá succeeded José Arias (c. 1743–88) as director of sculpture at the Real Academia de S Carlos de la Nueva España in Mexico City. He took with him a collection of plaster casts for sculptures, many books, and 154 quintals (7 tonnes) of plaster for the Academia. He arrived in ...