Cultural Events Experience lecture on Abstractionism

Julia Detchon’s Thursday lecture focused on art from Latin America and described the art form of Abstractionism, which was created in a post-war period. Nathan De La Cerda | Multimedia Journalist

By Tyler Bui | Staff Writer

Julia Detchon, recent recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, presented a lecture titled “Abstraction and its Legacies in Postwar Latin America” at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Hooper-Schaefer Building.

The lecture was presented through the “Abstract Expressionism and Its Legacies” seminar, taught by Dr. Katie Larson, assistant professor of art history at Baylor and was funded by the Allbritton Art Institute.

Detchon, a Ph.D. candidate at Univeristy of Texas at Austin in the Center for Latin American Visual Studies, specializes in modern and contemporary Latin America. She has worked in the Museum of Fine Arts, the Blanton Museum and the National Gallery of Art.

Detchon’s lecture was a part of Baylor’s Cultural Events Experience, which aims to immerse students in the fine arts community on campus with events showcasing art, music, theatre, film and literature at Baylor.

Detchon’s lecture applied to both Baylor’s Cultural Events Experience and Dr. Larson’s “Abstract Expressionism and Its Legacies” seminar. Her lecture allowed for students who were both familiar and new to the subject of abstractionism to explore the topic through a Latin American perspective.

“Her research allows the art and art history department to contribute to Baylor’s broader mission, which is outlined in Illuminate – to engage with the study of Latin American art in order to foster multicultural understanding,” Larson said. “This is something we have been trying to do in this class—thinking about Postwar art in a broader global context.”

Detchon said abstractionism was created from the impact of industrialization and the change in culture in postwar Latin America.

“Latin America is a vast and varied part of the world, with over 30 countries where hundreds of languages are spoken,” Detchon said. “The story of abstraction in Latin America has been strongly tied to narratives about development in modernization in the 20th century, which is a linking of modern living or growing urbanization and industrialization in many Latin American countries, with modernism.”

Detchon focused on three specific countries in Latin America: Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina and the most influential artists who embodied the idea of abstractionism. She referenced artists such as Waldemar Cordeiro, Joaquín Torres-García, Hélio Oiticica, Gyula Kosice, Lygia Pape and Lygia Clark.

She presented the works of each artists and discussed the impact their work had on society at the time. Each artist brought their own interpretation of abstractionism and illustrated the differences of both the times and cultures during their work.

Larson said abstract art can be a challenging topic for students to approach, and she felt Detchon’s lecture was a great opportunity for students to develop a better understanding of the art form.

“Abstract art is often a category that students tell me they have a hard time approaching,” Larson said. “I think having a little more context can be a good way to begin to appreciate works of art that often don’t readily narrate a specific story, [It] can be incredibly powerful and speak to important issues around political, social and historic events.”

Larson said she is interested in Detchon’s research and that it was a great learning opportunity for her students to learn from her.

“I thought she did an excellent job of pointing out some of the main issues at stake for artists working in Latin America during the postwar moment,” Larson said. “She nicely balanced artists who were working in a more traditional painterly format with artists who were experimenting broadly with performance and installation art. She gave a nice overview of how these differing practices developed, intersected and responded to one another.”