Rita Eder is an art historian who spent many years with the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the UNAM (Mexico City). Since 1975 she has taken a great interest in the art produced in her country and in the rest of Latin America. She took part in the Austin Symposium in Texas and subsequently established relationships with Latin American critics such as Damián C. Bayón (1915–90) from Argentina—the organizer of the event—, the Peruvian Juan Acha (1916–95) who lived in Mexico, the Brazilian Aracy Amaral (b. 1930), and Marta Traba (1923–83), who was from Argentina but who had settled in Colombia. The first volume in the series Critical Documents of 20th–century Latin American and Latino Art (organized by Héctor Olea, Mari Carmen Ramírez, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, 2012) addressed the question of identity. This subject is discussed in Chapter IV, Section 2.7–8, “Artes Visuales Asks the Question: When Will the Art of Latin America become Latin American Art?”. The question is answered in essays by Bayón, Jorge Romero Brest, and Rita Eder: “Why a Latin American Art?” [see docs. no. 1061734, 1061762, and 1061782, respectively].
This document is the text of the lecture that Eder gave decades later at the Primeira Bienal Latino-Americana de São Paulo, organized by Amaral in 1978, in which Eder reviews the theories concerning twentieth-century art in the region. She concludes that the “range of methodological possibilities” has increased “as the study of art has become receptive to the analytical methods used in the social sciences.” This critical diagnosis was confirmed throughout the Symposium and its objectives became apparent in the texts presented by the anthropologists Darcy Ribeiro, Alba Zaluar, and Néstor García Canclini, among other participating intellectuals involved in the field of social anthropology.