September 9, 2021
Honoring the cultures of Hispanic and Latinx Americans, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. In recognition of the important work of Hispanic and Latinx artists, collectors, and scholars, we have compiled a list of recommended reads that explore these contributions as crucial and intricate, though often under-recognized, fixtures in the history of American art. Featured publications range from important monographs to groundbreaking exhibition catalogs, studies of intercultural exchange, and titles on the formation and examination of identity.
As an institution, the Frick Art Reference Library continually aspires to promote and provide resources on the works of diverse populations, within the scope of our collection. See our collection development policy for more information on the library’s collecting practices.
The publications on this list are available in the library catalog to be requested for consultation by appointment in our reading room. View the listed e-book remotely thanks to our program with Open Library, which allows anyone to browse a wide selection of our digitized publications by creating a free Internet Archive account.
On the Horizon: Contemporary Cuban Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection
By Tobias Ostrander (2017)
Dive into this striking catalog of works by contemporary Cuban artists recently acquired by the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Featuring a breathtaking group of artworks in an array of media, the collection centers on the motif of the horizon line as a point of entry into reverie and notions of the liminal, the eternal, and the unattainable. Subsequent sections of the catalog focus on abstract, geometric, and architecturally inspired works that further enhance the subtle tension and uncertainty that the horizon can represent. Widespread themes that encompass the personal, spiritual, political, and psychological render this a poignant and important representation of artists from Cuba and the Cuban diaspora.
Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780–1952
Museo de Arte de Ponce (2006)
Let the works of painters José Campeche y Jordán (1751–1809), Francisco Oller y Cestero (1833–1917), and Miguel Pou y Becerra (1880–1968) guide you through two centuries of Puerto Rican history. Learn how each famous artist helped shape the island’s self-identity and national character as they reflected the societies and landscapes of their respective times. The interwoven subjects of Campeche’s portraits of the ruling class, Oller’s celebratory landscapes and still lifes featuring native fruits and flowers, and Pou’s Impressionist paintings of everyday people and his surroundings grant the reader a window into the Caribbean island’s rich past.
Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement
By Rita Gonzalez, Howard N. Fox, and Chon Noriega (2008)
Consider the subversive works of Mexican American, or Chicanx, artists during the civil rights era by perusing this exhibition catalog. Rita Gonzalez, now Head Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, chronicles influential yet under-recognized works by Chicanx artists such as the East Los Angeles artist collective Asco. Although commenting on specific political issues, the artwork presented in Phantom Sightings is aligned with broader contemporaneous conceptual, multimedia, and site-specific works. The resulting experimental and satirical works demonstrate a playful yet frustrated critique of the state of society and of the conventional art world.
Resisting Categories: Latin American and/or Latino?
Edited by Héctor Olea and Melina Kervandjian (2012)
Discover the nuanced perspectives of 168 Latinx historians, critics, scholars, and historical figures from the sixteenth century to today as they explore the meaning and connotations of identity. Presenting foundational texts through which to understand the history and evolution of Latin America, the vast information included in this volume can inform the conscious collection, display, and interpretation of Latin American and Latinx art. This comprehensive collection questions how we traditionally characterize, view, and define various cultures of the Western Hemisphere.
Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945
Edited by Barbara Haskell (2020)
Reframe your understanding of modern American art by considering the effect of “Los Tres Grandes”—José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), Diego Rivera (1886–1957), and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974)—on American painters of the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s. The three Mexican muralists created avant-garde public art on both sides of the border that highlighted marginalized histories. Their narrative formats, modernist depictions, and use of color had wide-reaching influence, informing the aesthetics of artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Thomas Hart Benton, Jackson Pollock, and, more directly, the works of artists funded by the Federal Art Project. The popularization of Mexican art further inspired numerous American artists, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Isamu Noguchi, and Philip Guston, to study and work in Mexico. This beautifully illustrated catalog is a wonderful and welcome reminder that American art is largely built on cross-cultural exchanges and is often, more accurately, Pan-American.
Nexus New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis
Edited by Deborah Cullen (2009)
Explore the reciprocal impact of Hispanic and Latinx artists on the New York City art scene in the years between 1900 and 1942. This exhibition catalog, from El Museo del Barrio, highlights New York as a juncture in the careers of peripatetic Caribbean and Latin American artists, resulting in international artistic exchanges between them and U.S.-born artists. Their refreshing contributions enlightened and exposed the metropolis’s art world to revolutionary, surreal, and avant-garde aesthetics. In return, New York offered a turning point in many of these visiting artists’ styles and subject matter. Trace the stylistic evolution of artists like Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949), Alice Neel (1900–1984), and Francis Picabia (1879–1953) in this fascinating volume.
By Hans Ulrich Obrist; edited by Karen Marta (2021)
Use this publication as a portal into the world of Luchita Hurtado (1920–2020), a Venezuelan-born artist based in New York and Los Angeles. Archival facsimiles, photo essays, and delicate reproductions of her drawings join a visual survey of the artist’s oeuvre, all accompanying personal interviews between the author and Hurtado, who only received widespread recognition later in life. This biography conveys a poetic view of Hurtado’s travels, political and ecological reflections, and feminist expression across two-dimensional media.
Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight
By Dana Miller (2016)
Experience the evolution of abstract painter Carmen Herrera (b. 1915) in this monograph from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Detailing the distinct effects of location on her aesthetic, this publication observes how Herrera’s architectural training in Havana, gestural painting tutorship at the Art Students League in New York, and study of the convergence of Russian Suprematism and De Stijl in Paris each contributed to her renowned minimalist, hard-edged style. The artist, now 106 years of age, continues to paint out of love for “the beauty of the straight line.”
Mauricio and Tomás Lasansky: Father and Son
By Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame (2014)
Compare the oeuvres of a father and son representing two generations of Argentine artists based in Iowa. Mauricio Lasansky (1914–2012), who is internationally renowned for pushing the boundaries of intaglio printmaking, expanded upon traditional metal plate techniques to produce figural images on a monumental scale, created through multiple overlaid impressions. Working in similarly large-scale formats, Tomás Lasansky’s (b. 1957) gripping portrait drawings and paintings confront the viewer’s gaze and harken to his father’s multilayered process. Both artists address themes of humanity, portrayed realistically with passages that slip into abstraction, revealing an intoxicating visual complexity.
F. Luis Mora: America’s First Hispanic Master (1874–1940)
By Lynne Pauls Baron (2008)
Rediscover the life and work of Uruguayan-born American figural painter F. Luis Mora (1874–1940) through this monograph. Merging the painting style of the Spanish Old Masters inspired by his travels in Europe with that of contemporary American painters such as William Merritt Chase, Mora was a renowned Impressionist painter in the United States, receiving numerous awards throughout his career. This book not only chronicles Mora’s life, but also interrogates the reason behind his near erasure in public memory.
All photos by Joseph Coscia Jr., The Frick Collection