Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000

Jorge F. Rivas-Pérez

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000

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Latin America is a heterogeneous region, a complex mosaic of nineteen different countries, each with its own unique and distinctive social and cultural traditions. Consequently, when thinking through Latin American design, it must be taken into consideration that the categorization encompasses a varied group of substantially different design histories and trajectories. Fine art and design in Latin American nations, however, share a hybrid cultural heritage rooted in the fusion of indigenous African and European (Spanish or Portuguese) fine art and craft traditions. This shared hybrid element, or mestizo, suffuses Latin American design with certain unifying components that when taken together—notwithstanding variant political, linguistic, and economic circumstances—render the unifying theme of Latin America particularly germane for those interested in the creative traditions of the region. The 20th century was an era of profound and transformative social, political, and artistic changes for Latin America. Born from these often-dramatic changes, the search for identity is a leitmotif of the modern design movement. With Europe as a model during the first half of the century and the United States serving as a model during the second half, the 20th century saw numerous aesthetic proposals originating from Latin America. Ranging from revisionist, neocolonial, and nativist movements, to modern and postmodern movements, Latin American design was colored with strong local characteristics, such as the use of local materials and a vibrant chromatic palette—and these elements emerged in the global design. Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico are the regional leaders in design, which is likely due to their relative size, population, and degree of industrialization. It follows that the limited literature on Latin American design mainly comes from these countries. In some cases, other factors have encouraged the development of national design movements. Venezuela, where design was largely fueled by the booming oil economy of the second half of the 20th century, and Cuba, where a design movement developed after the political upheaval of 1959, are a few examples. The bibliography on modern Latin American design is limited, with very few or no texts available for some constituent countries. Although some publications are bilingual, English-language-only texts are exceedingly rare.

Article.  4696 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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