Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985

By Hammer Museum

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

 Part of the Getty's initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, this exhibition reappraises the contribution of Latin American women artists and those of Latino and Chicano heritage in the United States to contemporary art.  The exhibition is on view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, September 15–December 31, 2017, and at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, March 16–July 8, 2018.

Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) (1972) by Ana MendietaHammer Museum

A Key Period in Latin American History

In a way that no other exhibition has done previously, Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, gives visibility to the artistic practices of women artists working in Latin America and US-born women artists of Latino heritage between 1960 and 1985.

Ana Mendieta is best known for what she called “earth-body works,” and her practice centered on themes of the female body, death, cultural displacement, and transformation.

Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants) documents a performance in which Mendieta glued her friend Morty Sklar’s beard onto her own face. Mendieta was one of the first female artists to investigate the transformative abilities of hair and its implications at the level of gender.

Ana Mendieta (Cuban, 1948–1985)
Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants), 1972
The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC, and Galerie Lelong, New York

Caixa de fazer amor (Lovemaking box) (1967) by Teresinha SoaresHammer Museum

Teresinha Soares’s work combines a free celebration of the erotic and the feminine with a critique of the repressive policies of the Brazilian dictatorship (1964–85) and of the oppression of women in patriarchal society. Her Caixa de fazer amor is an assemblage in pop art colors. In its original conception the viewer would interact with the work by turning a handle connected to a windmill that, when spun, would set in motion a large red plush heart inside the box; the heart’s playful and overblown motion imitated the way a heart beats when one is in love. Another heart—this one split though with the potential to be joined—was formed in the upper part of the box by two faces almost touching each other. Both comic and celebratory, this work speaks of the tribulations of love and desire.

Teresinha Soares (Brazilian, b. 1927)
Caixa de fazer amor (Lovemaking Box), 1967
Collection of Teresinha Soares

Por la mañana (In the morning) (1980) by Patricia RestrepoHammer Museum

In this experimental film, which is based on a poem by Jacques Prévert, a devastated wife reviews repeatedly what happens at breakfast: her husband never once looks at her as he reads the paper, smokes a cigarette, and drinks a cup of coffee—the same scene day after day.

Patricia Restrepo (Colombian, b. 1954)
Por la mañana (In the Morning), 1979
Courtesy of the artist

Poema (Poem) (1979) by Lenora de BarrosHammer Museum

In 1970 Lenora de Barros graduated with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and immediately began considering the interactions between her already developed poetry practice and visual art. In 1979 she developed one of her first visual poems, Poema, a series of photographs depicting the artist’s tongue interacting with the mechanism of a typewriter.

Lenora de Barros (Brazilian, b. 1953)
Poema (Poem), 1979
Courtesy of Lenora de Barros and Galeria Millan, São Paulo

Biscoito arte (Art biscuit) (1976) by Regina SilveiraHammer Museum

New Scholarship

The artists featured in Radical Women have made extraordinary contributions to the field of contemporary art, but little scholarly attention has been devoted to situating their work within the social, cultural, and political contexts in which it was made.

Anónimo 1 (Homenaje a los desaparecidos y torturados dentro de los hechos violentos durante el gobierno de Turbay Ayala) (Anonymous 1 [homage to those disappeared and tortured in violent incidents]) (1981) by María Evelia MarmolejoHammer Museum

Maria Evelia Marmolejo’s work is characterized by its ritualistic nature and feminist and political intent, as seen here in her first performance, in homage to the tortured and disappeared during the regime of Julio César Turbay Ayala (Colombian president, 1978–82). Marmolejo’s self-inflicted wounds and their subsequent healing were intended to bring to the public’s attention the political violence prevalent at the time.

María Evelia Marmolejo (Colombian, b. 1958)
Anónimo 1 (Homenaje a los desaparecidos y torturados dentro de los hechos violentos) (Anonymous 1 [Homage to those disappeared and tortured in violent incidents]), 1981
María E. Marmolejo and Promoteo Gallery di Ida Pisani, Milan

Y con unos lazos me izaron (And they lifted me up with rope) (1977) by Sonia GutiérrezHammer Museum

In the 1970s Sonia Gutiérrez assumed an overtly political attitude that culminated in her sudden exile from Colombia’s art scene. In her paintings and prints from the 1970s and early 1980s, while retaining her pop art aesthetic, she denounced acts of torture and persecution by depicting faceless bodies restrained by ropes and bonds of fabric. In this way her work represents a version of pop art that opposed the banality of the message, opting instead to convey social and political commentary. Y con unos lazos me izaron was inspired by the case of Dr. Olga López, who was unjustly arrested with her five-year-old daughter and was kept blindfolded and tied up and brutally tortured for two weeks. López described her treatment, saying, “They wrapped my wrists in fabric, and they lifted me up with rope.” Gutiérrez used López’s description to title this painting.

Sonia Gutiérrez (Colombian, b. 1947)
Y con unos lazos me izaron (And they lifted me up with rope), 1977
Museo de Arte Moderno, La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia

La Palmera (The palm tree), from the series La manzana de Adán (Adam’s apple) (1982-1990) by Paz ErrázurizHammer Museum

Photographer Errázuriz turned her gaze to the most marginal, who often have less access to power and even to the means to voice their discontent. Her photographs often take the form of a series, at times accompanied by the writings of other women. One of her most important series, La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple), was published as a photo-essay with text by Claudia Donoso. In it Errázuriz and Donoso were given entrée into the lives of Mercedes, Evelyn, and Pilar, three transvestites who worked in the brothels of La Jaula and La Palmera in the towns of Talca and Santiago.

Paz Errázuriz (Chilean, b. 1958)
La Palmera (The palm tree), from the series La manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple)
Courtesy the artist and Galería AFA, Santiago

Biscoito arte (Art biscuit) (1976) by Regina SilveiraHammer Museum

Regina Silveira responded to the hostile political climate of Brazil’s military dictatorship in the 1970s with ephemeral, conceptual work. Biscoito Arte (Art Cookie), a cookie in the form of the word "art" that was intended to be eaten, is one of Silveira’s best-known works.

Regina Silveira (Brazilian, b. 1939)
Biscoito arte (Art Cookie), 1976
Collection of Fernanda Feitosa and Heitor Martins

Limitada (Limited) (1978/2013) by Marie OrensanzHammer Museum

A Genealogy of Feminist Practice

This groundbreaking exhibition will constitute the first genealogy of feminist and radical art practices in Latin America and their influence internationally, thereby addressing an art historical vacuum.

Sin título (Untitled), from the series Liliana Maresca con su obra (Liliana Maresca with her work) (1983) by Liliana MarescaHammer Museum

Fifteen countries will be represented in the exhibition by more than one hundred artists, with 260 works in photography, video, and other experimental mediums.

Liliana Maresca (Argentinean, 1951–1994)
Sin título (Untitled), from the series Liliana Maresca con su obra (Liliana Maresca with her work), 1983
Liliana Maresca and Marcos López Archives

Leyendo las noticias (Reading the news) (1965) by Marta MinujínOriginal Source: Marta Minujín Archives

Among the women included are emblematic figures such as Lygia Clark, Ana Mendieta, and Marta Minujín alongside lesser-known names such as the Cuban-born abstract artist Zilia Sánchez, the Colombian sculptor Feliza Bursztyn, and the Brazilian video artist Leticia Parente.

Marta Minujín (Argentinean, b. 1943)
Leyendo las noticias (Reading the News), 1965
Marta Minujín Archives

Passing Through “Green Hands”, Sonnabend Gallery (1977) by Sylvia Palacios WhitmanHammer Museum

Visit the Hammer Museum's website to see more images, a full list of the over 100 artists in the exhibition, and to purchase the exhibition catalogue.

Sylvia Palacios Whitman (Chilean-American, b. 1941)
Passing Through “Green Hands,” Sonnabend Gallery
Courtesy of the artist and BROADWAY 1602 HARLEM, New York.

Credits: Story

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 is organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an initiative of the Getty with arts institutions across Southern California. The exhibition is guest curated by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta with Marcela Guerrero, former curatorial fellow, in collaboration with Connie Butler, chief curator, Hammer Museum.

Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty with art institutions across Southern California. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 is made possible through lead grants from the Getty Foundation.

Major funding is provided by the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation and Eugenio López Alonso. Generous support is provided by the Vera R. Campbell Foundation, Marcy Carsey, Betty and Brack Duker, Susan Bay Nimoy, and Visionary Women.

Additional support is provided by the Radical Women Leadership Committee and the Friends of Radical Women.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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