20th-century Latin American Art is a diverse
collecting category, spanning 100 years of paintings, photography, and
sculpture from various Latin American countries. It's also one of the
fastest growing art markets.
The best recognized and most collected work emanates from the
more developed Latin America countries: Mexico, Argentina, Brazil,
Venezuela, and Columbia.
Mexico stands out in terms of international
notoriety; it's the most highly developed, with the most active artistic
tradition. Leading up to the 20th century, the most prominent
Latin American paintings were Mexican genre paintings, including religious
works and portraits. Early 20th-century work — even that of the best known
Mexican artists, such as Diego Rivera and Alfredo Ramos Martinez —
displayed heavy French and European academic influences.
Following the Mexican Revolution, the artwork
began reflecting native cultures rather than European models. Beginning in
the early 1920s, as the Revolution subsided, the new revolutionary
government started sponsoring murals. The social realism of the Murals
Movement was the most prominent aspect of this period, but there were many
artists and organized shows; for the first time these 20th-century artists
were getting prominent venues in other countries.
For example, in 1940, New York's Museum of
Modern Art hosted a major show of Mexican artwork spanning several
centuries. Later, from the 1960s through the 1980s, Latin American artists
broke away from those earlier models and began to work in a more abstract,
international mode — still reflecting their cultures, but in a completely
different style. In the late 1970s Sotheby's initiated specialty Latin
American art sales, which helped increase awareness as a genre of
In addition to Rivera and Martinez, highly
sought-after Mexican artists include Rafino Tomayo, Frida Kahlo, Dr. Adle
and Carlos Mérida. From Columbia, Reveron and painter-sculptor Fernando
Boteros stand out; and the sculpture, prints, and drawings of Costa Rican
Francisco Zuñiga are highly prized.
For a closer look at 20th-century
Latin American Art, we suggest the following: