Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 13 color illustrations Published: February 2014

American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Chicanx and Latinx Studies

The essayist and cultural commentator Ilan Stavans and the analytic philosopher Jorge J. E. Gracia share long-standing interests in the intersection of art and ideas. Here they take thirteen pieces of Latino art, each reproduced in color, as occasions for thematic discussions. Whether the work at the center of a particular conversation is a triptych created by the brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Andres Serrano's controversial Piss Christ, a mural by the graffiti artist BEAR_TCK, or Above All Things, a photograph by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Stavans and Gracia's exchanges inevitably open out to literature, history, ethics, politics, religion, and visual culture more broadly. Autobiographical details pepper Stavans and Gracia's conversations, as one or the other tells what he finds meaningful in a given work. Sparkling with insight, their exchanges allow the reader to eavesdrop on two celebrated intellectuals—worldly, erudite, and unafraid to disagree—as they reflect on the pleasures of seeing.


"While there are moments at which the writers arrive at a fresh viewing, they more often use the art as a platform to speak broadly of human life, preferring the wide aperture of much philosophic writing that can lend itself to generalizations. Usefully, the sweeping nature of many statements is offset by the dialogic mode, with both writers as comfortable disagreeing as they are bolstering each other’s insights. While there are moments that lag, there are also moments that shine, especially when Stavans and Gracia draw on their own lived experiences, twining narrative with philosophy." — Publishers Weekly

“These multidisciplinary musings aimed at scholars of art, language, and identity will be enjoyed by those who are content to ponder, wander, and disagree alongside the authors.” — Lindsay King, Library Journal

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art is extraordinary, at once global in vision and particular in approach. It teaches an enormous amount about history, art history, art (practice and theory), and metaphysics—all with tremendous rigor, ease, and playfulness. If only all intellectual works were such." — Frederick Luis Aldama, author of Why the Humanities Matter: A Commonsense Approach

"In these freewheeling conversations, Ilan Stavans and Jorge J. E. Gracia cover key background for defining Latino art, including ethnicity, immigration, identity, assimilation, community, and language. The writers' distinct personalities keep their discussions lively and surprising. A special contribution of this book is to highlight artists whose works the reader may not already know. The authors offer insights into the thirteen works they discuss in detail, drawing upon a myriad of art historical and literary allusions in a conversation that is often erudite but never dull." — Cynthia Freeland, author of Portraits and Persons


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. He has written, edited, and translated many books, including Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

Jorge J. E. Gracia is Samuel P. Capen Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His many books include Painting Borges: Philosophy Interpreting Art Interpreting Literature, Images of Thought: Philosophical Interpretations of Carlos Estévez's Art, and Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii
Thirteen 1
1. The Labyrinth of History: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, La reconquista 17
2. The Impostor's Mask: María Brito, Conversation 35
3. On Desecration: Andres Serrano, Piss Christ 49
4. The Death Game: Francisco Oller, El velorio 61
5. A Girl's Innocence: Marian Yampolsky, Elva 75
6. The Thereafter: Carmen Lomas Garza, Heaven and Hell 93
7. The Street as Art: BEAR_TCK, Chicano Graffiti 107
8. Desperate Escape: José Bedia, Siguiendo su instinto 123
9. The Horrors of War: Luis Cruz Azaceta, Slaughter 139
10. The Ambiguity of Madness: Martín Ramírez, No. 111, Untitled (Train and Tunnel) 153
11. I Laugh in Your Race! Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Skull) 167
12. American America: María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Above All Things 181

13. Twisted Tongue: Adál, La Spanglish Sandwich Bodega Bag 195

Thirteen Plus One 209

The Artists219

Index 227
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5634-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5627-1
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