The region that we know today as Latin America was conceptualized in the nineteenth century once most of the Spanish colonies of the Western hemisphere and the Portuguese colony of Brazil had obtained their independence. As these societies established themselves as independent nations, they struggled to develop autonomous visual languages suitable to their contemporary condition and self-fashioning. This course presents an overview of the origins and development of Latin American art from the post-independence period through the first half of the twentieth century. It emphasizes such themes as the rise of nationalism and autonomous artistic expression, the relationship between “high” art and “low” culture, and parallel developments and divergences in European and U.S. American art. We will also be reading works of art in terms of their social and historical contexts; discussing issues of race, class, and gender in terms of visual images; and framing Latin American art both within the field of art history and interdisciplinary. Topics to be covered include the art and visual culture of independence; traveler artists in the Americas; the impact of French aesthetics, especially neoclassicism; graphic and popular arts; the rise of the avant-garde in Mexico, South America, and Cuba; muralism and social realist tendencies in Mexico and beyond; and surrealism and “fantastic” art in Haiti and the Hispanic Americas.


No prerequisites are necessary. Recommended courses: Introduction to Art History (082:105/106) or Latin America: An Introduction (590:101). 


Available for purchase at the Rutgers University bookstore:

  1. Dawn Ades, with Guy Brett, Stanton Loomis Catlin, and Rosemary O’Neill. Art in Latin America. The Modern Era, 1820-1980. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. ISBN: 0300045611.

Requirements and Grading

  • Regular attendance and class participation (5%)
  • Map Quiz (10%)
  • Midterm Exam (20%)
  • 2 short papers (40%)
  • Final Exam (25%)