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Elizabeth P. Benson

Pre-Columbian Maya site in Retalhuleu, in the Highland Maya region, near the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It is best known for its monumental stone sculptures, some of which were recorded in the 19th century. The site lies partly on the Finca San Isidro Piedra Parada, and it was known by this name when Eric Thompson published a description of some of the sculpture in 1943. ‘Abaj Takalik’ (‘standing stone’) is a translation of ‘Piedra Parada’ into Quiché Maya. It was occupied during the Pre-Classic (c. 2000 bcc. ad 250) and Classic (c. ad 250–c. 900) periods. The site lies on a fertile slope between the mountains and the sea; there are remains of steep, manmade earthen terraces on which its structures were built. The earth removed to create the terraces may have been used to construct the various mounds at Abaj Takalik, a number of which were faced with stone cobbles. Adobe bricks were also used, and local volcanic material provided flooring. The site was covered in ...

Article

Giulio V. Blanc

(b San Antonio de los Baños, nr Güines, 1889; d Havana, 1965).

Cuban painter and caricaturist. He graduated from the Academia de S Alejandro in Havana in 1920 and lived in Paris from 1927 to 1929. There he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and abandoned academicism, developing a modernist ‘Cuban’ style, in which folkloric scenes of peasant life were depicted in a colourful, energetic, pseudo-naive manner reminiscent of Jules Pascin and Amedeo Modigliani. An outstanding work of this period is Triumph of the Rumba (c. 1928; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.). After a trip to Italy in the early 1930s, Abela began to paint canvases such as Guajiros (‘Peasants’; 1938; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.), in which the Classical sobriety and order is the result of his contact with Italian medieval and Renaissance art. His style underwent a radical change in the early 1950s, and from this time until his death he painted small works that recall in their use of fantasy the drawings of children as well as the works of Marc Chagall....

Article

David Boxer

(b St Andrew, May 14, 1911; d Kingston, Apr 10, 2005).

Jamaican painter. He began his career as a cartoonist for various local periodicals. In 1937 Augustus John, then working in Jamaica, encouraged him to begin painting. Unlike the majority of his contemporaries, he eschewed the “official” classes of the Institute of Jamaica and virtually taught himself to paint through self-study courses and manuals and by copying masterpieces from art books. His cartoonist’s wit and a sardonic humor became the most important ingredients in work that drew on numerous stylistic sources, from Renaissance painting to Cubism. He was a devout Christian, and produced a host of religious works of an undeniable sincerity, although he transformed many traditional Christian themes into witty contemporary parables. His Last Supper (1955; Kingston, N.G.) is the best known of these. Some of his finest work consists of ironic transformations of the great mythological themes of the past and intensely personal fantasies based on contemporary events. He was also one of the few painters to treat successfully historical Jamaican subjects, for example in paintings of the imagined daily lives of the extinct Arawaks, the landing of Columbus, and a series depicting the riotous living of 17th-century buccaneers in Port Royal. His ...

Article

Roberto Pontual

revised by Gillian Sneed

(b Araraquara, 1903; d Asunción, Paraguay, 1992).

Brazilian printmaker and teacher. Abramo was born into a middle-class Italian immigrant family in Araraquara, in the state of São Paulo, before moving to the city of São Paulo in 1909. In 1911 he studied drawing with painter Enrico Vio (1874–1960) at the Colégio Dante Alighieri in São Paulo. In 1926 he came into contact with German Expressionism and the work of engraver Oswaldo Goeldi, and made his first woodcut print, Vista Chinesa (1926; Echauri de Muxfeldt 2012, pl. 122), depicting a village bridge in an Expressionist style. Initially self-taught in printmaking, his work addressed social themes such as the São Paulo working class. In 1928 and 1929 he created linocuts depicting images of the working class in a Cubist style for the newspaper Lo Spaghetto. In the early 1930s he became influenced by the paintings of Tarsila’s anthropophagic phase (1928–1929) and Lasar Segall’s Expressionism. In 1930 Abramo joined the Communist Party (PCB), but he was expelled in 1932 after he was accused of being a Trotskyist. In 1931 he began working as a draftsman for the ...

Article

María Antonia González-Arnal

(b Turmero, nr Maracay, Aug 22, 1919; d Caracas, Feb 20, 1993).

Venezuelan painter and sculptor. From 1943 to 1947 he studied drawing and painting in the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas, Caracas. He was a founder-member of the Taller Libre de Arte, taking part in its activities from 1949 to 1952. His paintings, always within a figurative framework, are marked by a pursuit of the magical and of indigenous roots. In his early work he was interested in the themes of roosters and flowers, using the surrounding environment as a source of inspiration. He expressed human, animal and vegetable existence in strong, warm colours (e.g. The Rooster, 1951; Caracas, Gal. A. N.). In 1952 Abreu moved to Europe, visiting Spain and Italy and living in Paris until 1962, when he returned to Venezuela. In Europe his contact with the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and with Surrealism produced a profound transformation in his work. He created his first Magical Objects...

Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Guatemala, Jan 7, 1933).

Guatemalan painter and printmaker. From 1954 to 1957 he studied at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City while researching folk art for the Dirección de Bellas Artes, but he was virtually self-taught and began as a draughtsman and painter of bullfighting scenes. In 1958 he travelled to New York on a Guatemalan government grant, prolonging his stay there with further grants, studying at the Arts Students League and Graphic Art Center, and finally settling there permanently. He was influential in Guatemala until c. 1960, but because of his long residence abroad his work did not fit easily in the context of Central American art. Before leaving Guatemala he had painted landscapes and nudes in a naturalistic style, but he soon adopted a more modern idiom partly inspired by aboriginal Guatemalan subjects. After moving to New York, and especially from 1958 to 1961, his art underwent a profound transformation as he sought to bring together elements of abstract art and Surrealism and experimented with textures, for example in cross-hatched pen-and-ink drawings such as ...

Article

Julieta Ortiz Gaitán

(b Mexico City, Sept 24, 1931).

Mexican painter. He studied at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura ‘La Esmeralda’ under Enrique Assad Lara and Carlos Orozco Romero. His work reflects a concern for the negative effects of industrialization and modernization on cities and displays a nostalgia for more humane urban conditions. His large-scale paintings, for example the Boots of the Gran Solar (oil on canvas, 1.60×1.80 m, 1982; artist’s col.), convey a sense of urgency through the use of light and colour, with broad lines and chromatic tones creating dynamic forms that show the influence of Abstract Expressionism.

Siete pintores contemporáneos: Gilberto Aceves Navarro, Luis López Loza, Rodolfo Nieto, Brian Nissen, Tomás Parra, Vlady, Roger von Gunten (exh. cat., Mexico City, Pal. B.A., 1977)R. Tibol: Aceves Navarro, Durero y las variaciones (Mexico City, 1978)M. Idalia: ‘Más libertad y menos barroquismo en la nueva pintura de Aceves Navarro’ [Greater freedom and less extravagance in the new painting of Aceves Navarro], ...

Article

Ludovico C. Koppmann

[Konstantinovsky, Wladimir ]

(b Odessa, Russia, June 23, 1900; d Buenos Aires, July 11, 1967).

Argentine architect.. He studied architecture at the Istituto di Belle Arti in Rome, graduating in 1919. From 1922 he worked in Germany, gaining experience in building engineering and urban design, before moving to Argentina in 1928. He worked in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala and, from 1954 to 1957, in the USA, where he taught (1956) at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. On his return to Argentina he was appointed Professor of Architectural Composition (1957–66) at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. Acosta was an early exponent of an approach to architecture through environmental design and engineering, which he promoted through his book Vivienda y clima (1937) and his ‘Helios’ buildings. These were based upon correct orientation, cross-ventilation, and the control of solar radiation by means of brises-soleil, with minimal mechanical intervention. Like the architects of the Modern Movement in Europe, he saw architecture as a social phenomenon and became dedicated to the provision of mass housing for rapidly growing urban populations. His early work included individual houses in Buenos Aires, for example the Casa Stern, Ramos Mejía (...

Article

Roberto Pontual

(b Vercelli, Italy, 1843; d Rio de Janeiro, 1910).

Brazilian caricaturist and painter. He came to Brazil in 1859, having already acquired some knowledge of painting in Paris. He settled initially in São Paulo, where he at once started to publish caricatures attacking black slavery. There, in 1864, he was one of the founders of the comic newspaper O Diabo Coxo. His abolitionist spirit continued after he moved to Rio de Janeiro, through his frequent collaboration in periodicals such as A Vida Fluminense, O Mosquito, Don Quixote and O Malho. In the Revista Ilustrada he began to publish in 1884 the first long-running strip cartoon in Brazil, the adventures of Zé Caipora, a sertão (hinterland) character, depicting a lesser-known side of Brazil. As a painter he specialized in landscapes but also produced portraits with the same fervour that fired his enjoyable and impassioned satirical drawings, for example Portrait of the Writer Joaquin Augusto Ribeiro de Sousa (c. 1890...

Article

Colin McEwan

[anc. Salangome]

Pre-Columbian site in Manabí Province, Ecuador, 8 km inland in the Buenavista River Valley. It was a principal town, controlled by a lord, of the powerful indigenous polity of Salangome, recorded in 1528 by the navigator of the Spanish explorer and conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Human occupation at Agua Blanca spanned at least 5000 years and included components of all the principal ceramic-using cultures identified along Ecuador’s coasts. The ceramic sequence began with Valdivia wares in the early 3rd millennium bc, and continued uninterrupted during the Manteño culture (c. ad 800–c. 1500) encountered by the Europeans in the 16th century.

The visible archaeological remains at Agua Blanca are of Manteño date. They comprise the wall foundations of several hundred domestic structures, storehouses, temples, and other public buildings, which together make the site the largest and best-preserved of all surviving Manteño towns. The orientations of some buildings were clearly governed by astronomical considerations. The long axis of the principal temple, for example, is directed towards the point of sunrise on the December solstice, and this alignment determined the east–west axis of many buildings at the site. A secondary or derived axis, at right angles to the first, determined the layout of other structures. In still other areas, buildings were arranged radially around a central mound, a practice resembling the principles of spatial organization expressed in the earlier dated ...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Nov 6, 1943).

Panamanian painter. He studied painting from 1960 to 1962 at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Panama City and from 1964 to 1970 at the Universidad Autónoma, Mexico. From 1971 he taught at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, Panama City, of which he was director from 1980 to 1982. Under the influence of Pop art he produced semi-abstract paintings that combined geometric shapes and lines with sensuous parts of human anatomy painted with an airbrush and set in vaporous spaces of flowing colors. A typical example is Profiles of Attraction (1976; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.). In later works such as Attack II (1987; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.) he added expressionist brushstrokes for visual contrast.

Gasteazoro, M. Homenaje. Panama City, Gal. Etcétera, 1982. Exhibition catalog.Oviero, R. “Luis Aguilar Ponce: Ahora mi pintura se une a la humanidad.” La Prensa [Panama City] (Oct 19, 1984): 1B....

Article

Lelia Delgado

(b Barcelona, Venezuela, April 22, 1907; d Oct 13, 1976).

Venezuelan painter. He was self-taught and painted his first portraits and self-portraits c. 1930. In 1965 his first exhibition was held at the Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas. His paintings, which later included nudes, possess a very particular atmosphere, developing from a small focal point, to which successive layers of paper or card are added, creating the effect of a collage; heavily and energetically worked, the works are small scale, which lends a further intensity to their expressiveness. Aguilera Silva had exhibitions throughout Venezuela, and examples of his work are held in the Galería de Arte Nacional, Caracas....

Article

Isabelle Gournay

(b Mexico City, Jan 18, 1902; d Paris, Dec 29, 1988).

French architect. He graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and worked for a time in the office of André Ventre (1874–1951). In the late 1930s, when he was unable to obtain larger commissions in Depression-stricken France, his activity was limited to ceremonial decorations and exhibition displays such as the Pavillon de l’Elégance at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, Paris (1937), and the Salle de la Haute Couture in the French pavilion at the World’s Fair, New York (1939), which gave him a taste for theatrical settings. In 1945 he was appointed Chief Architect of the Houillères de Lorraine, a coal-mining conglomerate in a drab area where reconstruction and industrial modernization was urgently needed; as well as industrial structures, he also designed some single-family workers’ housing such as the Cité Bellevue (1945–7) in Creutzwald, and this marked the beginning of his dedication to the improvement of low-cost housing....

Article

Horacio Safons

(b Federal, Entre Ríos, Aug 22, 1928; d Buenos Aires, Feb 19, 1996).

Argentine painter, draughtsman and collagist. He studied under Juan Batlle Planas from 1950 to 1953 and quickly established the terms of his work, rooted ideologically in Surrealism and indebted in particular to the work of René Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. All the elements of his mature art are evident in an early painting, Burning of the Hasidic School in Minsk in 1713 (1954; artist’s col.): architecture, space, light and ordered series. He developed an essentially intellectual approach, working in a variety of media (paintings, drawings, gouaches and collages) in rigorous sequences and picturing objects in cold impersonal light that confers on them a sense of distant majesty. The most common motif is that of a geometric, almost abstract structure, often in the form of a tower pierced by rows of large plain windows. Aizenberg’s work, while far removed from the Surrealist presumption of achieving a synthesis of wakefulness and dream, acquires its strength through the ordering of the unreal and the strange in the search for a transcendent essence capable of perturbing and jolting the viewer by bringing into play the archetypes of silence and solitude....

Article

Carlos Lastarria Hermosilla

(b 1892; d 1967).

Chilean sculptor. From 1902 to 1939 he lived in Germany; he studied under Franz Metzner in Berlin. On his return to Chile, he taught at a private school and then taught sculpture in the Academia Particular of the Universidad de Chile in Santiago, also executing important works such as the tomb of President Pedro Aguirre Cerda (1941; Cementerio General de Santiago) and a large relief, La naturaleza, in Parque Cousiño (1945; Santiago, Escuela Jard. Parque Cousiño).

Albert’s training in Germany, when Expressionism was at its height, led him to use distortion of form as the sign of vehement emotion. In his Ariel and Caliban (bronze, h. 8 m, 1960; Santiago, Parque Forestal), limbs are lengthened, muscles swell, tendons are visible beneath the skin, and one body yields and droops while the other rises imposingly into space. These traits are found in all his other sculptures, with the stress on subjectivity impelling him towards the metaphysical notion that the ‘real’ materials with which he works are his own feelings. Yet there is also a meditative depth in his work and a calming effect arising from an idealized geometry of forms. Albert’s concern with mass, which brought out the sensual qualities of his materials, was part of a profound examination of the specific problems of sculptural language: rhythm, movement and tension of surfaces....

Article

Elisa García Barragán

(b Marseille; d after 1912).

Italian sculptor and teacher, active in France and Mexico. He began his career in Marseille as a sculptor of the French school, and in 1888 he received an honourable mention at the Salon des Artistes Français, where he exhibited regularly until 1913. He probably moved to Mexico at the end of 1889. He won critical acclaim for his first works there, marble and bronze busts of important Mexican figures. In 1891 the government commissioned him to create statues of national heroes and dignitaries for the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City; the statue of Col. Miguel López was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL, in 1893 and at the World’s Fair in Atlanta, GA, in 1895, winning prizes on both occasions. This was Alciati’s most dramatic and realist work, and the influence of Rodin is clear. In 1895 he was appointed professor of sculpture, decoration and modelling at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. At the turn of the century he was commissioned to create, under the direction of ...

Article

Emmanuel Ortega

(b Texcoco; fl 1751–1803).

Mexican painter. José de Alcíbar was a prominent figure in Mexico City’s cultural scene during the second half of the 18th century, where he appears to have primarily painted portraits and religious images. One of Alcíbar’s best-known works, De Español y Negra, Mulato (1760; Denver, CO, A. Mus.), was painted as part of a casta series; a type of work that depicts the different racial groups (Spaniards, Africans, and native Mexicans) present in Mexico (see Pinturas de castas). Alcíbar is also recognized as a member of a group of artists who in 1751 aided painter Miguel Cabrera in his analysis of the miraculous image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. His formal approach remained Baroque in nature while his figures and colours epitomized the sweet and soft style Cabrera introduced in the mid-18th century. Alcíbar’s Ministry of St Joseph (c. 1771; Mexico City, Mus. N.A.) best represents this approach to Novohispanic subject-matter. Alcíbar’s style is a prime example of the ‘Old School of Mexican Painting’ typical of the late 18th century that decreased in prominence due to the establishment of the Academia and its emphasis on Neo-classicism....

Article

Enrique Larrañaga

[James]

(b Caracas, Sept 14, 1932).

Venezuelan architect. After finishing elementary and middle school in Caracas, Alcock attended St. Edmund’s College (1946–1949) and University of Cambridge School of Chemistry (1949–1952), both in England. Back in Caracas, he enrolled in the architecture faculty of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, graduating in 1959. While a student, he worked for Venezuelan architect Alejandro Pietri (1924–1992) and Brazilian landscapist Roberto Burle-Marx (1909–1994) on various landscape architecture projects.

With José Miguel Galia (1919–2009), who had been his tutor at school, Alcock founded Galia & Alcock, Arquitectos Asociados (1959–1962). For Galia, a respected Uruguayan architect who had been working in Venezuela since 1948, architecture should at once respond to a building’s function climate and incorporate technological innovations thus operating as an assemblage of materiality and location that celebrates and intensifies both. Among the projects Galia and Alcock designed together, those for public spaces in both urban and natural environments were the most celebrated, particularly the Macuto Beachfront (...

Article

Monica E. Kupfer

(b Panama City, Sept 5, 1949).

Panamian painter. A graduate of the University of Panama’s Architecture School, he became a full time painter following his first solo exhibition in 1979. From 1980 to 1983 he studied at the Art Students League in New York, his only formal training as an artist. Alfaro is best known for his beautifully rendered oil paintings but has also produced drawings, pastels and three-dimensional pieces. His first images were portraits of young women surrounded by surreal elements or in dream settings. From 1983 he painted humorous images of traditional or religious subjects such as church processions, as well as portraits of imaginary ecclesiastical figures and war heroes; capitalizing on Panama’s strong Catholic tradition. Alfaro even invented his own saints, including the Virgin of All Secrets (1986; see colour pl. I, fig.). By 1990, his compositions became increasingly baroque, crowded with human figures in often menacing natural environments that suggest abundant iconographic, literary and historical interpretations. Towards the end of the decade, Alfaro began to isolate and increasingly distort his models, achieving an expressive deformation characteristic of his disturbing view of humanity and personal vision of surrealism....

Article

Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy

American installation artists, active also in Puerto Rico. Jennifer Allora (b Philadelphia, Mar 20, 1974) graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of Richmond, Virginia (1996), and Guillermo Calzadilla (b Havana, Cuba, Jan 10, 1971) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Escuela de Artes Plastica in San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996). Allora and Calzadilla met in Italy in 1995 during a study abroad program in Florence. They then lived together in San Juan for a year before moving to New York City where they started working collaboratively while each participated in different residency and study programs. In 1998–1999, Allora participated in the year-long Whitney Independent Study Program, while Calzadilla participated in the P.S.1 Contemporary Arts Center National Studio Program.

Allora & Calzadilla’s first important international exhibition was the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo in 1998 curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, which investigated the idea of cultural cannibalism known in Brazilian literature as ...