Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Le démon des anges : a brief history of the Chicano-Latino artists of Los Angeles / Margarita Nieto
    Le démon des anges. -- Nantes, France : Centre de recherché pour le développement culturel, 1989.
    p. 217-223
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Nieto, Margarita. "Le démon des anges : a brief history of the Chicano-Latino artists of Los Angeles."  In Le démon des anges. 217-223. Nantes, France : Centre de recherché pour le développement culturel, 1989.
Editorial Categories [?]

This essay by Margarita Nieto details the history of Chicano art in Los Angeles and broader California. Nieto focuses on the artworks and activism of sixteen prominent artists, including Carlos Almaraz, Gronk, Patssi Valdez, Luis Jimenez, and others. Accompanying an exhibition of these artists’ works, the document provides information on the beginnings of the Chicano-Latino art movement in Los Angeles, underscoring the critical link between art and society motivating much Chicano cultural production. Nieto discusses the formation of artist organizations, collectives, and publications as part of the anti-establishment movement at work, highlighting several such groups, including Mechicano and Self-Help Graphics. The author considers the development of muralism as a key medium for communication between Chicano artists and their audiences, and looks at the various connections between artist collectives, namely ASCO, Los Four, and the East Los Streetscrapers, and the mural movement. Nieto briefly details parallel developments in Chicano artistic communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and San Diego-Tijuana, and highlights Chicano artists’ relationships to the border, both in its physical form and as aesthetic and cultural concept. The text concludes with a consideration of later developments in Chicano-Latino art, focusing on the achievements and challenges of artists working after the height of the Chicano movement, in the 1980s and beyond.


Margarita Nieto is an art historian and professor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University, Northridge (Los Angeles area). She is one of the few historians to focus on the history of Los Angeles artist and art organizations, with an emphasis on the influences from American art on their work. This essay was written for the catalog of the exhibition, Le Démon des Anges, [The Devil of the Angels] which was co-sponsored by Le Centre de Recherche pour le Développement Culturel (Nantes, France) and El Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Santa Mónica (Barcelona, Spain). The traveling exhibition cites included France (Nantes and Lyon), Spain (Barcelona), Sweden (Stockholm), and Belgium (Brussels). It was the first major exhibition of Chicano art to travel in Europe and opened up a market for Chicano art outside of the U.S. Though focusing on the Chicano artists of L.A., Nieto does include information on artist collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego. (There are some errors in this information, e.g., Rupert Garcia is cited as a member of Oakland’s MALAF collective, which was not true.) Translated into French, Spanish, and Catalan, Nieto’s essay was an important introduction to Chicano art for the multi-nation audience of this European organized exhibition. Though Nieto acknowledges an irony in her essay (i.e., Chicano art is "recognized abroad while ignored at home"), the essay provides valuable documentation of the development and state of Chicano art in Los Angeles at the end of the 1980s.

Tere Romo
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Ph. D. Margarita Nieto, Los Angeles, CA