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International Perspectives

Pan American Modernism exhibition

In February 2014, the Gibbes took a group of museum members on a trip to Cuba. I was lucky enough to travel with the group and it was an incredible experience. We spent five days visiting museums, artist studios, and cultural sites in Havana, while also enjoying plenty of good food, drinks, and even a little late night dancing.

Curator Pam Wall on a rooftop in Havana, Cuba.
Curator Pam Wall on a rooftop in Havana, Cuba.

For me, the highlight of the trip was the studio visits. Seeing artists in their space always gives me a new level of understanding and appreciation for their work, and this was certainly the case in Havana. Ever since that trip, I have been hoping to get Cuban art to the Gibbes. We made this happen with our current exhibition, Pan American Modernism: Avant Garde Art from Latin America and the United States. The exhibition features the work of 16 Cuban artists alongside artists from 12 other countries throughout the Americas.

Untitled, 1963, by René Portocarrero (Cuban, 1912 – 1985)
Untitled, 1963, by René Portocarrero (Cuban, 1912 – 1985); Ink on paper; 29 ⅜ x 21 ⅛ inches. Courtesy of the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami.

Pan American Modernism explores the artistic exchanges that occurred throughout North, Central, and South America during the time period of 1920–1980. The exhibition counters the notion that modernism spread outward from the United States and instead sheds light on the important contributions of Latin American artists to the development of modern and avant-garde art. This transmission of ideas occurred through travel, expatriation, and academic training in art schools throughout the Americas.

Mujer (Woman), Late 1920s, by Eduardo Abela (Cuban, 1889 – 1965)
Mujer (Woman), Late 1920s, by Eduardo Abela (Cuban, 1889 – 1965); Oil on canvas; 32 x 27 ⅝ inches; Courtesy of the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami.

The exhibition showcases a remarkable diversity of artwork in terms of style, subject matter, and medium by leading artists of the twentieth century. Featured artists include Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Robert Motherwell, Man Ray, and Wifredo Lam, among others. The exhibition reveals a fascinating web of connections among artists and provides a broad understanding of abstraction and other avant-garde styles during the twentieth century. As an American art historian, this international perspective helps me to understand art of the United States, and the Gibbes collection, in a more meaningful way.

Pam Wall, curator of exhibitions, Gibbes Museum of Art
October 19, 2017

Pan American Modernism was developed by the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, with the tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

Related exhibition programming include bilingual tours, film screenings, and a sugar skull workshop. View our online calendar to learn more.

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