Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226393957 Published May 2017
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Abstraction in Reverse

The Reconfigured Spectator in Mid-Twentieth-Century Latin American Art

Alexander Alberro

Abstraction in Reverse

Alexander Alberro

368 pages | 58 color plates, 17 halftones | 7 x 10 | © 2017
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226393957 Published May 2017
E-book $50.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226394008 Will Publish May 2017

During the mid-twentieth century, Latin American artists working in several different cities radically altered the nature of modern art. Reimagining the relationship of art to its public, these artists granted the spectator an unprecedented role in the realization of the artwork. The first book to explore this phenomenon on an international scale, Abstraction in Reverse traces the movement as it evolved across South America and parts of Europe.

Alexander Alberro demonstrates that artists such as Tomás Maldonado, Jesús Soto, Julio Le Parc, and Lygia Clark, in breaking with the core tenets of the form of abstract art known as Concrete art, redefined the role of both the artist and the spectator. Instead of manufacturing autonomous art, these artists produced artworks that required the presence of the spectator to be complete. Alberro also shows the various ways these artists strategically demoted regionalism in favor of a new modernist voice that transcended the traditions of the nation-state and contributed to a nascent globalization of the art world. 

Review Quotes
Andrea Giunta, author of Avant-Garde, Internationalism, and Politics: Argentine Art in the Sixties
Abstraction in Reverse offers an urgently needed postcolonial perspective for the study of Latin American art and provides new concepts for exploring visual culture at the crossroads of modernity and globalization.”
Luis Pérez-Oramas, Latin American Art Curator, The Museum of Modern Art
“Alberro’s impressive approach to post-Concrete Latin American art sets the stage for a new understanding of modernity as it demonstrates how artists, by reconceiving the spectatorial functioning of abstraction, critically dismantled the modern myth of art autonomy.”
María Amalia García, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
Abstraction in Reverse deftly traces South American cultural processes and their ties to European traditions without neglecting the specifics of their individual trajectories. This is a compelling read.”
Bruno Bosteels, author of Marx and Freud in Latin America: Politics, Psychoanalysis, and Religion in Times of Terror
“Engaging and accessible, Abstraction in Reverse astutely explores the question of art’s place in society and the surprising extent to which seemingly speculative debates about the framing of modern art can impact the political agenda of the revolutionary Left.”
Kaira M. Cabañas, author of Off-Screen Cinema: Isidore Isou and the Lettrist Avant-Garde
Abstraction in Reverse is a must-read for anyone interested in abstract art, its histories, and the different narratives we tell when faced with an increasingly global world.”
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