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    On the identity of Latin American art = Sobre la identidad del arte latinoamericano / Dore Ashton

    Plástica (San Juan, Puerto Rico). -- Vol. 1, no. 12 (Sep. 1984)


    p. 12-13, 92-93
    English; Spanish
    Journal article – Essays
    Ashton, Dore. "On the identity of Latin American art = Sobre la identidad del arte latinoamericano." Plástica (San Juan, Puerto Rico), vol. 1, no. 12 (Septiembre 1984): 12-13, 92-93

Dore Ashton, the distinguished American art critic, believes that Latin American artists should be free to express themselves as they please. A national art should not consist entirely of images of indigenous or local subjects. Ashton points out that in the twentieth century, Latin American countries confronted the same dilemma that face every other western nation, that there is “a tension between nationalist imperatives and the essentially internationalist mood of the modern era.” She argues in favor of a space where artists with a variety of interests can work, regardless of the opinions expressed by art critics.


This is the text of Dore Ashton’s speech at the contemporary art and literature symposium at the University of Texas at Austin, October 27–29, 1975, organized by Damián Bayón.

This issue of Plástica magazine was devoted to art in Latin America; it was produced by Ernesto Ruiz de la Mata, the Puerto Rican critic, who organized the Centro de Documentación de Arte Latinoamericano [Center for the Documentation of Latin American Art] in Puerto Rico during the 1980s. Some of the articles included in this issue were lectures delivered at various conferences and symposia that were collected here for the first time; other essays were contributed by their authors with no particular subject guidelines. This was the first time that a Puerto Rican magazine addressed the question of contemporary Latin American art.

Plástica magazine, where this review was published, was an art publication that appeared fairly regularly in Puerto Rico. It began modestly enough in 1968, as the newsletter of the Liga de arte de San Juan [San Juan Art League], but changed its name in 1978 to Plástica revista de la Liga de estudiantes de San Juan [San Juan Student League Visual Arts Magazine]. Its very specific title notwithstanding, the twenty-one issues of the magazine explored a wide range of subjects within the broad parameters of Puerto Rican and Latin American art, filling its pages with retrospective coverage of subjects, such as the V Bienal de San Juan del grabado latinoamericano y del Caribe [5th San Juan Biennial of Latin American and Caribbean Prints] (1981), Puerto Rican architecture, and Latin American visual arts. The first editorial board of the magazine included Hélène Saldaña, Delta Picó, Cordelia Buitrago, and J.M. García Segovia. In addition to the many essays written by top Puerto Rican thinkers, the magazine published contributions from some of the leading Latin American artists and critics, such as Luis Camnitzer, Damián Bayón, Jacqueline Barnitz, Samuel Cherson, Joseph Alsop, Omar Rayo, and Ricardo Pau Llosa, among many others.

Flavia Marichal
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of Dore Ashton, New York, NY
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras