Radical Form Modernist Abstraction in South America Megan A. Sullivan

Publication date:
11 Jan 2022
Yale University Press
224 pages: 254 x 203mm
76 color + 17 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Emphasizing the open-ended and self-critical nature of the projects of abstraction in South America from the 1930s through the mid-1960s, this study focuses on the painting practices of Joaquín Torres-García, Tomás Maldonado, Alejandro Otero, and Lygia Clark. Megan A. Sullivan positions the adoption of modernist abstraction by South American artists as part of a larger critique of the economic and social transformations caused by Latin America’s state-led programs of rapid industrialization. Sullivan thoughtfully explores the diverse ways this skepticism of modernization and social and political change was expressed. Ultimately, it becomes clear that abstraction in South America was understood not as an artistic style to be followed but as a means to imagine a universalist mode of art, a catalyst for individual and collective agency, and a way to express a vision of a better future for South American society.

Megan A. Sullivan is an assistant professor in the Department of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago.

"Beautifully constructed and convincingly argued, this book fills an important gap in published literature and will have a great impact on how scholars and students study Latin American modernism."—Harper Montgomery, author of The Mobility of Modernism: Art and Criticism in 1920s Latin America

"Radical Form is original and certainly very intelligent. It makes an important contribution to the field of Latin American art history."—Abigail McEwen, author of Revolutionary Horizons: Art and Polemics in 1950s Cuba