The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
John Beardsley and Jane Livingston wrote this essay in response to the criticism generated by the exhibition they organized for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1987, Hispanic Art in the United States: Thirty Contemporary Painters and Sculptors. This exhibition was among the first efforts by mainstream museums in the United States to feature Latino and Latin American artists on a large scale. As such, it received support from major institutions like the Rockefeller Foundation, an important early supporter of initiatives in Latino and Latin American art during the late- 1980s and early- 1990s, as well as that of the many grass-roots organizations around the United States devoted to Latino art at the time. As Beardsley and Livingston acknowledge in this text, it generated heated debate among intellectuals and artists active in the Latino art community. Tomás Ybarro-Frausto and Shifra M. Goldman criticized Beardsley and Livingston for de-contextualizing the works to such a degree that the strong social-political concerns of many Latino artists were not in evidence. In defending their choices, it becomes clear that they failed to do this because Beardsley and Livingston understood their primary goal as that of making “Hispanic” art accessible and valuable in the eyes of a mainstream (i.e., Anglo) audience. For them, this meant emphasizing painting and sculpture (media familiar and valued by the art milieu), and the aesthetic (i.e., personal, poetic, and abstract) aspect of this work. In seeking out these qualities, Beardsley and Livingston clearly believed in the impartiality or universality of an idea such as aesthetic judgment.