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Meadows Museum Hosts International Symposium on Latin-American and Spanish Art

On May 1-2, 2013, the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University will bring together an international panel of museum professionals and university professors to lead a symposium titled “From the Other Shore: Narratives and Perspectives on Spanish & Latin-American Art.” The aim of the symposium is to analyze the various ways in which ideas and perceptions about Spanish and Latin-American Art have evolved in the last decades, dramatically increasing their international visibility and relevance. The symposium will be held on the SMU campus in the Crum Auditorium of the James M. Collins Executive Education Center, 3150 Binkley Ave. The two-day program, which is open to the public, will include opportunities for participants to interact with the presenters during lunches and breaks, and includes an evening reception at the Meadows Museum.

Welcome and introductory remarks will be given by Roberto Tejada, Endowed Professor of Art History, SMU; María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, Professor of Art History, Universidad Complutense, Madrid; and Eugenio Carmona, Distinguished Professor of Art History, Universidad de Málaga, and Head of the Research Project “Narraciones de lo Moderno.” Presenters and their topics are as follows:

Session One

Shaping Narratives of Spanish and Latin-American Art – Museums and Collections
Manuel Borja-Villel, Director of the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid
“Local Versus Global: Spanish Art and Latin-American Art in the Permanent Collection and Exhibitions of the Museo Reina Sofía”
History has ceased to be written as though it were made up of large continents, to become a kind of archipelago. The author thereby enters into tension, seeking to reflect and relate at once with his or her community and with the world. Art seeks at once the absolute and its opposite – that is, writing and orality. There is no longer a single voice issuing its narrative from a privileged platform; instead, we are immersed in a multiplicity of micro-narratives that has produced a new cartography of art. New York can no longer be said to have stolen the idea of modern art from Paris, because the idea emerges in multiple places and because there is nothing to steal, just relations to establish and render visible.

Mark A. Roglán, The Linda P. and William A. Custard Director of the Meadows Museum and Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU
“From a Collection of Spanish Art to a Center for Latin-American Culture”
The Meadows Museum houses one of the greatest collections of Spanish art in the world and is part of one of the top universities in the United States. With its national and international presence, as well as growing number of acquisitions, exhibitions, projects, programs, publications, technological updates, and educational initiatives, the Meadows is positioned to become the center for the study of Spanish art in the United States, a platform from which everyone interested in Spanish art will benefit.

Ángel Kalenberg, former Director of the Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales de Montevideo
“Narratives of Latin-American Art: from Montevideo to Mainstream Art History”
Kalenberg has termed one of the most powerful and important artistic currents in Latin America as “Organic Constructivism.” Abandoning the European Constructivist movement, Latin-American artists were successful in creating an “organic construction,” which means an abstract art with material support that is sensitive and organic. This current originated from Torres Garcia’s work, rather than Mondrian’s, and therefore began in Latin America instead of Europe.

Session Two

About Narratives in Modern Art History – Constructing Stories/Making Art History
Eugenio Carmona, Distinguished Professor of Art History, Universidad de Málaga, and Head of the Research Project “Narraciones de lo Moderno”
“Narratology and Modern Art. Selected Examples from the Meadows Museum Collection: Juan Gris, Picasso, María Blanchard and Julio Gonzalez”
Perhaps one can affirm that works of art are not simply the works themselves, but rather an accumulation of all that has been said or recounted about them. More than a century after its birth, Modern Art is not only a collection of diverse, contrasted contributions; it is also a series of accounts and critical narratives about its history and development. By tacit agreement among historians, critics and museologists, some critical narratives on Modern Art were favored over others. From then on, rather than the narrative adapting to the works of art, the works of art are being evaluated, not in the proper sense of their contribution, but for their adaptation to a previously devised narrative. Many narratives on Modern Art are structured on the basis of Cubism. The main, or orthodox, narrative created on Cubism is so widely accepted that it appears perfectly natural and emanating from the Cubists’ own experience, when in fact it was not like this. It happened because one critical construct, out of many other critical constructs, favored specific visions and specific options. Doubtless this was a valuable critical construct but today we can contemplate many works and propositions that we identify as Cubist and which, although we find them particularly interesting, fit uncomfortably in the dominant narratives on Cubism and its contribution. This happens not only with the contributions of artists considered “minor;” it also happens with works of Picasso and Juan Gris. We shall consider this supported by several of the most important works at the Meadows Museum, and we shall associate our considerations with the singular contribution of the sculptor Julio Gonzalez, and thus, with considerations on one of the most decisive concepts of modern sculpture.

Diana Wechsler, Director of the Institute for Research in Art and Culture at the National University of Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires
“‘Realism’ in the Fabric of Modern Debate Between Europe and the Americas”
A common assertion about the historiography of Latin-American art is that the agenda of modern art in our major capitals has been met with delay. Currently under debate, this issue, based on a concept of homogeneous historical time, is still alive and well. In this regard, the processes that take place in the 1920s and 30s can be seen as evidence to develop other working hypotheses which not only reveal new aspects of Latin-American art and culture, but also shed light on the larger narrative of modern art. On the basis of this premise, this presentation will suggest a critical revision of this stretch of the narratives of modernism.

María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, Professor of Art History, Universidad Complutense, Madrid
“Narrating Modern Spanish Art: A Foreign Affair? James Johnson Sweeney’s Views on Spanish Art and its Influence”
In the fall of 1941, the Museum of Modern Art celebrated the exhibition “Joan Miró,” curated by James Johnson Sweeney. Only two months earlier he had published the article “Picasso and Iberian Sculpture,” challenging some views on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon as formulated by Alfred H. Barr, Jr. in his 1939 MoMa catalogue Picasso, Forty Years of his Art. During the 1950s, as the director of the Guggenheim Museum, he paid special attention to young Spanish abstract artists and, in 1960, he curated a major exhibition of Spanish avant-garde: “Before Picasso-After Miró.” The purpose of this presentation is to explore James Johnson Sweeney’s views on Spanish modern art during the forties and fifties and their impact on its international reception.

Session Three

New Perspectives on Spanish and Latin-American Art in Scholarship, Museum, and Exhibition Practices
Mari Carmen Ramírez, Wortham Curator of Latin-American Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Director, International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA)
“Resisting Categories: Latin-American and/or Latino?”
This talk will analyze how the categories of Latin-American and Latino art evolved throughout the last few decades through exhibitions organized in the United States. An underlying premise is that, in the absence of academic art history programs, the history of Latin-American and Latino art in this country has been researched and written through exhibitions and their accompanying publications. The talk will also consider how this phenomenon conflicts or overlaps with parallel accounts emerging from various countries in Latin America.

Miriam Basilio, Assistant Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, NYU
“The Evolving Latin-American Canon”
This lecture will examine the following questions: How do Western museums re-think modernist art historical canons today? How can modern museums frame global contemporary art within a modernist context that does not represent modernities outside the U.S./Eurocentric art historical narrative? The goal is to shed light on an as-yet unstudied aspect of Alfred Barr’s preeminent role in establishing the definition of the problematic term “Latin-American art” in the United States through his inclusion of works by Latin-American artists in his collection displays at The Museum of Modern Art. In examining Barr’s shifting categorization of these works according to stylistic and geographic taxonomies, we gain a greater understanding of his articulation of the Modernist canon during the 1940s and 1950s. In the late 1960s, curator Elaine L. Johnson sought to revive Barr’s interest in this area of the collection, yet her contributions are unknown today. Barr’s inclusive international collection display groupings and Johnson’s proposals to fill gaps in collecting by creating a geographically specific curatorial area within MoMA prefigure strategies employed by museums in the United States and Europe today.

Dore Ashton, author and critic
“The Place of Spanish Art in Modern Experience”
It is impossible to talk about modern art without talking about Spanish art. And this is especially so for American art. With Velázquez, Goya, and Greco as venerable ancestors, and Picasso, Miró, and Juan Gris, as modern references, Spanish art has epitomized artistic freedom to American artists of several generations.

This program is organized by the Meadows Museum in collaboration with the University of Málaga, Spain, the University Complutense, Madrid, and the University Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires. It is part of a research project titled “Narratives on Modern Art,” (HAR 2009-13658/ARTE) funded by the Spanish government and the European Community and directed by Dr. Eugenio Carmona. The project has yielded two prior symposiums: “El Torno al Cubismo” (May 22-24, 2012, Madrid) and “Narraciones de lo Moderno” (August 22-23, 2012, Buenos Aires). The Dallas symposium has been underwritten thanks to a gift by The Meadows Foundation, and facilities are generously provided by SMU’s Edwin L. Cox School of Business.

Advance registration is required. Ticket prices for the symposium are $25 for both days, $15 for one day. Free admission for Meadows Museum members; SMU faculty and staff; and students with ID. Tickets include lunch, coffee breaks, free parking in the Meadows Museum garage, and an evening reception at the museum. Visit for a detailed schedule and registration information. For any questions, please contact Mousumi Franks at 214.768.2740.

Meadows Museum

The Meadows Museum is the leading U.S. institution focused on the study and presentation of the art of Spain. In 1962, Dallas businessman and philanthropist Algur H. Meadows donated his private collection of Spanish paintings, as well as funds to start a museum, to Southern Methodist University. The museum opened to the public in 1965, marking the first step in fulfilling Meadows’ vision to create a “Prado on the Prairie.”

Today, the Meadows is home to one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. The collection spans from the 10th to the 21st century, and includes medieval objects, Renaissance and Baroque sculptures, and major paintings by Golden Age and modern masters.

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