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Art historian Shifra M. Goldman writes with great acuity and depth about the traveling exhibition, Art of the Fantastic: Latin America, 1920–1987, which opened at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1987, and subsequently went to the Queens Museum in New York and the Center for Fine Arts in Miami, Florida. Goldman ponders the critical problems and legitimate historical reasons for organizing this exhibition of Latin American art around concepts like “the fantastic,” as such ideas have been, on the one hand, imposed as stereotypes on Latin American art and culture by European and U.S. interests, and, on the other, embraced and theorized by Latin Americans as means for self-definition. She sorts her description of the logic of the show’s organization into three chronological groupings, questioning how the works of individual artists do and do not relate to the broad theme of “the fantastic.” Indeed, Goldman is at pains to qualify the use of the term “fantastic,” and cautions the general public about the need to approach Latin American art from an educated, less biased perspective. Her discussion is particularly relevant for those who appreciate the ideological dimensions of modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art.


“Latin American Visions and Revisions” by the Los Angeles-based art historian Shifra M. Goldman first appeared in the May 1988 issue of Art in America, and was later reprinted in a volume of Goldman’s essays entitled Dimensions of the Americas: Art and Social Change in Latin America and the United States (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994): 347-57. This essay demonstrates the strong critical response that the exhibition Art of the Fantastic: Latin America, 1920-1987 provoked when it opened at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1987, as well as the more general, critical response to the rising visibility of Latin American art in both museums and markets in the United States during the late 1980s. Furthermore, Goldman’s analysis of the exhibition underscores the complexity of the issues surrounding the reception of Latin American art in the United States.

Victor Sorell; Harper Montgomery, collaborator
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Originally published in Art in America, May 1988. Courtesy BMI MEDIA INC., New York, NY.
Courtesy of the Archive of Shifra Goldman, CA