Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Chicago

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture, Harvard University
Concrete Nations: The Avant-Garde and Nation Building in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela

My dissertation investigates the role of geometric abstract art in the processes of nation building in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela in the decade following World War II. It focuses on the transferal and transformation of the project of geometric abstraction from prewar Europe to postwar Latin America. Moreover, it highlights the constructive role played by the rapidly modernizing societies of those nations in the radical formal innovations and refunctionalization that took place within the practice of Latin American geometric abstraction with regard to its European sources. My project has two complementary dimensions: on the one hand, it aims to elucidate the peculiar and unprecedented developments that took place within the formal, visual vocabulary that Latin American artists inherited from Europe. On the other hand, it seeks to chart the relationship between avant-garde practices of abstraction and nation making in a set of Latin American nations that lacked strong pre-Columbian traditions and underwent radical social realignments during the first half of the twentieth century. In charting these two approaches and their intersections, I posit a model for understanding the role of non-narrative art in the processes of late nation building via the creation of collective vision and identities and direct incursions into the built space of the nation. My project will not only revise the current literature on the avant-garde and modernist art practice; it will also rethink the role played by visual culture in the discursive formation of the nation in a group of countries where a strong state preceded and often dictated forms of popular nationalism.