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Forming Abstraction: Art and Institutions in Postwar Brazil

Dr. Adele Nelson
Assistant Professor of Art History and Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies
The University of Texas
Zoom - registration required

Dr. Adele Nelson is Assistant Professor of Art History and Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS) at the University of Texas at Austin. Nelson specializes in postwar and contemporary art of Latin America, with a focus on Brazil. Her research and teaching interests include transnational exchange between Latin America, Europe, and the United States; the close study of objects; the history of art institutions, exhibitions, and pedagogy; and theories of modernism. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Philosophical Society.

Following World War II, political and economic elites in Brazil utilized cultural diplomacy to project the developing nation onto the world’s stage. Art patrons, artists, and critics were highly visible subjects and agents of a reimagining of Brazilian citizenship. These protagonists were, with few exceptions, privileged, educated, and white. Abstract artists were celebrated as nonconformists who modeled engaged civil participation. Emergent white collar middle-class men like Geraldo de Barros and affluent women like Lygia Clark were touted as public thinkers, though not without tensions. Self-taught artists, some Afro-descendent, were also elevated, but as a subsidiary to abstraction – papering over racial inequalities. This talk will analyze the importance of exhibitionary and pedagogical institutions in the development of not only abstract art, but also social identities in postwar Brazil.

NOVEMBER 4TH, 5:30 PM ZOOM Registration required: r/WN_yKacqLuMQk

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