The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, part of the University of Oklahoma, is currently shining a light on a less familiar chapter in the story of Cold War art: that of Latin America. Libertad de Expresión: The Art Museum of the Americas and Cold War Politics features work by over 60 artists from Central and South America and the Caribbean, to explore how politics affected the international display of art from the region between the 1940s and ’90s.
In 1948 Cuban art specialist, José Gómez Sicre, was charged with using art ‘to strengthen the peace and security of the continent’. Libertad de Expresión explores how Sicre was guided by an official interpretation of ‘freedom’ in art to craft the art collection of the Organization of American States (OAS), now held in the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, DC. Curator Mark White explains that ‘Sicre championed artists sympathetic to international trends in contemporary art with the intention of demonstrating the cosmopolitanism of Latin artists and emphasizing freedom of expression in the American republics’. While the narrative of how supposedly ‘free’ modern art was linked to Western democratic ideals is now familiar, paintings by artists including Joaquín Torres García, Roberto Matta, Jesús Rafael Soto and Mario Carreño y Morales give a refreshing view of Cold War art history.
Admission to the exhibition is free so if you are passing Norman, Oklahoma before 5 January 2014 a visit is recommended.
Image: Alejandro Obregon, Estudiante Muerto (El Velorio) [The Dead Student (The Vigil)], 1956. Oil on canvas. Collection OAS Art Museum of the Americas