Art in Latin America

The details
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
21 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V351 Curating,
BA V352 Curating (Including Year Abroad),
BA V353 Curating (including Placement Year),
BA V359 Curating (Including Foundation Year),
BA V35B Curating (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Module description

The artistic heritage of Latin America is both as vast as its expansive geography and as rich as its complex history. Interwoven with the social, political, and cultural realities that have shaped the region, art from Latin America is a diverse and fascinating tapestry of pre-Columbian artefacts and Colonial art; botanical surveys and post-independence paintings; iconographies of social revolution; and contemporary engagements with violence and injustice. Artists from Latin America have long made significant contributions to innovating aesthetic forms by reaching beyond geographical boundaries to pioneer and engage with transnational movements, from Geometric Abstraction and Conceptualism, through to the digital interfaces at the frontiers of technological development.

During this wide-ranging survey module, we will look closely at select artworks that offer insights into a range of topics that are relevant to key moments in art making in Latin America. We will study artworks in dialogue with the region’s socio-political processes, addressing important historical events such as colonisation, the Mexican Revolution, modernisation, and political conflict. Within this interdisciplinary approach, we will focus mainly on modern and contemporary works of art to examine them in relation to issues such as nature and the landscape, cultural hybridity, modernity, trauma, and identity. We will begin with an introduction to Latin America, then examine core topics over the following weeks, combining readings of key critical and analytical texts with detailed discussions of specific artworks. We will also work hands-on with artworks at the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA), a major research and teaching collection at the University of Essex and a unique university and national resource. Representing 350 artists from 19 countries, ESCALA includes more than 750 artworks mostly produced from the 1960s to the present.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

1. To explore key themes and issues related to Latin America through its artistic heritage
2. To encourage interdisciplinary approaches to studying art
3. To study key artistic movements in modern Latin America
4. To familiarise students with the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA)
5. To contextualise artworks in broader political, social and cultural contexts

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module, you should have developed skills that enable you to:

1. Discuss works of art in relation to their social and historical contexts
2. Engage in close analysis of physical artworks, digital artworks, and images of artworks
3. Read and discuss art historical and critical texts, and relate them to specific artworks
4. Engage in independent research by sourcing for and using secondary texts
5. Participate in class discussions and engage constructively with feedback
6. Formulate and sustain a clear argument in relation to specific works of art and their context, thinking critically and laterally

Module information

ESCALA often organises and shares information about events related to art from Latin America at the University's Colchester Campus or at other venues through its website blog.

We advise signing up to ESCALA's social media and checking the website frequently for information about ESCALA events and opportunities.

ESCALA also has its own archive and reference library related to its artworks. You can access this by contacting ESCALA Assistant Director, Sebastian Bustamante-Brauning.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week 1 x Reading week 1 x Gallery visit Student presentations on ESCALA artworks Revision session in Summer Term


  • Kac, Eduardo. (2009) 'Art that Looks you in the Eye: Hybrids, Clones, Mutants, Synthetics, and Transgenics', in Signs of life: bio art and beyond, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press., pp.1-28
  • Breen, Rebecca. (2013) Body-Art Performance from Latin America: Ana Mendieta and Regina José Galindo in Dialogue.
  • Regina José Galindo and Francisco Goldman. (2006) 'Regina José Galindo', in BOMB: New Art Publications. (94) , pp.38-44
  • Demelo, Sarah; Harwood, Joanne; Montenegro Rosero, David Andrés; Ades, Dawn; Caragol, Taína; Fraser, Valerie; Essex Collection of Art from Latin America; Beecroft Art Gallery (Southend-on-Sea, England). (2014) Latin American art from a UK perspective : politics, ethics, and aesthetics / Valerie Fraser, Colchester: ESCALA, Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.
  • Artist website: Guillermo Gómez-Peña,
  • Oticica, Hélio. (2006) 'Dance in My Experience (Diary Entries), 1965-66', in Participation, London: Whitechapel. vol. Documents of contemporary art, pp.105-109
  • Artist website: Maria Thereza Alves – research back, decolonizing knowledge, strategies of survivance,
  • Rebecca Scott Bray. (2011-21-09) 'Teresa Margolles's Crime Scene Aesthetics', in South Atlantic Quarterly: Duke University Press. vol. 110 (4) , pp.933-948
  • Jiménez, Ariel. (2008) 'The Challenge of the Times, 1949-1974', in Alfredo Boulton and his contemporaries: critical dialogues in Venezuelan art, 1912-1974, New York: Museum of Modern Art., pp.156-170
  • Checa-Gismero, Paloma. (2017) 'Realism in the Work of Maria Thereza Alves.', in Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context, & Enquiry;. vol. 44 (1) , pp.54-63
  • Manthorne, Katherine. (2015) 'The Latin American Landscape in a Global Context', in Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America in the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, New York: Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros., pp.14-23
  • Artist website: Marcelo Brodsky,
  • Mosquera, Geraldo. (2001) 'Good-bye identity, welcome difference: from Latin American art to art from Latin America', in Third Text;. (56) , pp.25-32
  • Villanueva, Carlos Raúl. (2017) 'Integration of the Arts', in Manifestos and polemics in Latin American modern art, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Mónica Amor. (2005) 'Another Geometry: Gego's Reticulárea, 1969-1982', in October: The MIT Press. vol. 113, pp.101-125
  • Greeley, Robin Adèle. (2012) 'Manifesto of the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters, and Sculptors', in Mexican muralism : a critical history, Berkeley: University of California Press., pp.319-222
  • (no date) (Video on Oiticica's work) Cardoso, Ivan. H.O (1979).
  • Rivera, Diego. (2012) 'The Revolutionary Spirit in Modern Art', in Mexican muralism : a critical history, Berkeley: University of California Press., pp.322-330
  • Blackmore, Lisa. (c2018) 'Colonizing Flow', in Natura: environmental aesthetics after landscape, Zurich: Diaphanes.
  • Traveler Artists to Latin America | Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros,
  • Demos, T.J. (2016) '¡Ya Basta! Ecologies of Art and Revolution in Mexico', in Decolonizing nature: contemporary art and the politics of ecology, Berlin: Sternberg Press., pp.133-166
  • Demelo, Sarah; Harwood, Joanne; Montenegro Rosero, David Andrés; Ades, Dawn; Caragol, Taína; Fraser, Valerie; Essex Collection of Art from Latin America; Beecroft Art Gallery (Southend-on-Sea, England). (2014) Latin American art and the UK / an interview with Dawn Ades by Taína Caragol, Colchester: ESCALA, Essex Collection of Art from Latin America.
  • Coffey, Mary K. (2012) "Introduction" (pp.1-24) from: How a revolutionary art became official culture: murals, museums, and the Mexican state, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Essex Collection of Art from Latin America Collection,
  • Barson, Tanya. (2000) ''Unland.' The Place of Testimony.', in Tate Papers. (1) , pp.8-8
  • Artist website: Doris Salcedo,
  • Pérez Oramas, Luis. (c2003) 'Gego, Residual Retículareas and Involuntary Modernism: Shadow, Traces, and Site', in Questioning the Line: Gego in Context, [Austin]: Distributed by University of Texas Press. vol. International Center for the Arts of the Americas, pp.83-116
  • Artist website: Eduardo Kac,
  • Banwell, Julia. (2015) 'From Social Corpus to Social Corpse: Social Issues in Teresa Margolles’s Artwork', in Teresa Margolles and the aesthetics of death, Cardiff: University of Wales Press., pp.5-40
  • Munday, Jeremy. (2014) 'Radical Geometry: An Introduction', in Radical geometry: modern art of South America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, New York: Distributed in the United States and Canada by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., pp.20-31

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1 (2500 Words)  04/03/2020  40% 
Coursework   Visual Analysis (500 words)  19/03/2020  20% 
Coursework   Essay 2 (2500 Words)  21/04/2020  40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lisa Blackmore, email:
Dr Lisa Blackmore



External examiner

Prof Richard Simon Clay
Newcastle University
Professor of Digital Cultures
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
18 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Art History and Theory

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