Latin American and Latino Art Takes Center Stage at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, in Oberlin
The first modern work of Latin American art entered the collection of the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) in 1936, providing the seed for a diverse group of more than 200 modern and contemporary works by artists from 12 countries. Through June 28 2015, the museum showcases this collection in Latin American and Latino Art at the Allen.
Represented are artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Uruguay, as well as the United States. Ranging from Mexican Revolution-era prints to recent conceptual installations, the works explore themes of immigration, identity, religion, and revolution. The exhibition includes works by such major figures as Alfredo Jaar, José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and Doris Salcedo—many on view at the AMAM for the first time.
Latin American and Latino Art at the Allen highlights the remarkable breadth and quality of a collection shaped, in part, through gifts from individual collectors who championed Latin American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. During the 1940s, philanthropist and suffragist Lucia McCurdy McBride donated five important works by Mexican artists, most notably José Clemente Orozco’s 1929 painting, Mexican House. She also facilitated, in 1947, the AMAM’s purchase of Diego Rivera’s colorful Portrait of a Girl and Guillermo Meza’s painting, Nopalera. In the 1970s, Leona E. Prasse donated 12 lithographs by Rivera, Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, three artists known as los tres grandes (the three giants), whose public murals have shaped perceptions of the Mexican Revolution.
The AMAM continues today as an active collector of modern and contemporary works by Latin American artists. The collection reflects major movements in modern art, such as abstraction, as well as cultural practices and political concerns unique to Latin America. For example, The Journey, a 1988 painting by Cuban artist Luis Cruz Azaceta, evokes the perils posed to immigrants.
A number of works incorporate religious iconography. Representations of the Virgin of Guadalupe appear in the works of Pepón Osorio and Enrique Chagoya. Edouard Duval-Carrié’s painting Justicia, the first work by a Haitian artist to enter the AMAM collection, references Vodou traditions and the African diaspora in the Americas.
In a catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Denise Birkhofer, AMAM curator of modern and contemporary art, chronicles the history and growth of the collection. The 112-page publication includes more than 80 color illustrations.
Program support has come from the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Allen Memorial Art Museum
87 North Main Street
Oberlin, Ohio 44074
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday, 10 am–5 pm; Sunday, 1–5 pm; closed Mondays and December 24 through January 1
Related exhibition: avaf@AMAM
Richard D. Baron Gallery, 65 E. College St., Oberlin
February 20–April 30, 2015
First Thursday Visiting Artist Lectures
March 5, 5:30 pm—Alfredo Jaar
April 2, 5:30 pm—Edouard Duval-Carrié
Galleries remain open until 8 pm.
Tuesday, April 14, 2:30 pm—Denise Birkhofer, “The Legacy of mexicanidad: Neo-Mexicanism at the AMAM”
Nopalera, a 1946 painting by Mexican artist Guillermo Meza
AMAM, Charles F. Olney Fund, 1947.29