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This text is an introduction to the 1959 exhibition South American Art Today, presented at the Dallas Museum of Art. It is written by the curator, Cuban art critic and writer José Gómez Sicre. Gómez Sicre explains that the exhibition South American Art Today does not feature regionalist works, literal reproductions of reality, or “typical picturesque scenes” of Latin America; he claims that it instead features artists responding to modern currents in the international art world. He emphasizes that while these artists represent national themes through figurative and abstract art, their art is “universal.” Gómez Sicre explains that South American Art Today includes the work of new and established artists from throughout South America, including Raquel Forner, Emilio Pettoruti, Cândido Portinari, Ivan Serpa, José Balmes, Nemesio Antunez, Roberto Matta, Fernando Botero, Enrique Grau, Alejandro Obregón, Oswaldo Guayasamin, Eduardo Kingman, and Alejandro Otero.
The 1959 exhibition South American Art Today, presented at the Dallas Museum of Art, was curated by Cuban art critic and writer José Gómez Sicre (1916–1991). Gómez Sicre studied law at the University of Havana, and took classes in art history at New York University and Columbia University. His career consisted of the promotion of Latin American artists in the United States as well as internationally. Gómez Sicre served as the director of exhibitions at the Institución Hispanocubana de Cultura, organizing exhibitions of Latin American art that traveled throughout the continent. In 1944, Gómez Sicre became an advisor to Alfred H. Barr, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, and organized an exhibition of Cuban art that traveled throughout the United States. In 1946, he became a specialist working in the Visual Arts Unit of the Pan-American Union, which later became the Organization of American States. From 1948 to 1976, he served as chief of the Visual Arts Unit. He convinced the Organization of American States to create an acquisitions fund in 1957, and an art museum in 1976. Gómez Sicre’s publications include: Mario Carreño (1943), Cuban Painting Today (1944), Spanish Master Drawings XV to XVIII Centuries (1951), Four Artists of the Americas (1957), Guide to Public Collections in Latin America (1956, 1968), Leonardo Nierman (1971), and Jose Luis Cuevas: Self-Portrait with Model (1983). He was one of the first art critics to conceive of Latin American art as a field of study, and he is also responsible for establishing a canon of Latin American artists, and propelling the careers of such artists as Rodolfo Abularach, José Luis Cuevas, Armando Morales, Alejandro Obregón, and José Antonio Velásquez, among others. This introduction to the exhibition South American Art Today reflects Gómez Sicre’s promotion of a select canon of Latin American artists based mainly on the formal properties of their work, intentionally disregarding political or social aspects affecting the art. His introduction also reflects American Cold War interest in promoting the concept of a universal autonomous artistic language.