The Language of Objects in the Art of the Americas


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Edward J. Sullivan

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In this wide-ranging book, a distinguished scholar of Latin American art explores the meanings of created and depicted objects from the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking regions of the New World. Edward J. Sullivan begins with objects exchanged during encounters between indigenous peoples of the Americas and newly-arrived Europeans, and he pursues the discussion to the present day, as artists engage in breaking down constructed concepts of “Latin American-ness.” Sullivan’s scope is sweeping—the changing meanings of objects over five centuries—and he encourages deeper conversation about the complexities of today’s culture of the Americas.
From American-made handicrafts displayed in Old World curiosity cabinets, to still life paintings projecting a Latin American nation’s proud self-image, to 20th-century “found objects” identified as works of art, objects from the Americas provide a wealth of cultural insights. This generously illustrated volume invites the reader to travel across time and national boundaries to examine an array of these extraordinary and meaningful objects.

Edward J. Sullivan is dean of the humanities and professor of fine arts at New York University and the Institute for Fine Arts. He is the author of several books on Latin American art, including the popular textbook Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century.

“This book arrives at a particularly important moment, when there has been such great attention paid across disciplines to the object. It is a work that will launch many others.”—Stacie G. Widdifield, School of Art, University of Arizona

“The author's enormous breadth of erudition, the sheer scope of the research he has compiled and synthesized, and his own indefatigable enthusiasm for his subject make it a great joy to read. . . .  Each chapter represents a compilation of an enormous amount of research and performs an invaluable service to all in the field.”—Katherine Manthorne, The Graduate Center, CUNY

"Sweeping in scope. . . . A seminal study, The Language of Objects will stand as the definitive text on the subject for some time. Lavishly illustrated."—Art Times

"This work, with 199 large color reproductions, will be very valuable for art history and Latin American culture studies students and scholars. Highly recommended."—Choice

"Making stops in Peruvian colonial painting, Mexican modernism, Brazilian Tropicália, Argentine action art, and Cuban conceptualism, Sullivan persuasively makes his point: an object can be more subversive, more urgent, and more defiant in Latin American art than in other Western art."—Robin Cembalest, ARTnews

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title from 2008.
ISBN: 9780300111064
Publication Date: September 26, 2007
336 pages, 9 x 11
49 b/w + 162 color illus.
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