“The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930” Exhibition

Americas Society

poster for “The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830–1930” Exhibition

This event has ended.

Organized by The Getty Research Institute
Curated by Idurre Alonso and Maristella Casciato

Americas Society presents The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930, an exhibition that explores the impact that a century of accelerated urbanization as well as political and social transformations had on the architectural landscapes of six Latin American capitals: Buenos Aires, Havana, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Santiago de Chile. Curated by Idurre Alonso and Maristella Casciato, The exhibition features rare maps, engravings, drawings, photographs, books, and videos that range from Hernán Cortés’ Map of Tenochtitlán (1524) to Le Corbusier’s drawings of the City of Buenos Aires (1929). A press preview and reception will be held on March 21, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. RSVP: mediarelations@as-coa.org.

Previously on view at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, as part of its region-wide initiative on Latin American art Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930 draws on the Institute’s collections to document the radical breaks with the colonial past, transformative architectural exchanges with Europe and beyond, and the subsequent reinterpretation of pre-Hispanic, Spanish, and Portuguese motifs that influenced the emergence of a modernist culture and a modern architectural idiom in Latin America.

“The juncture that followed the processes of independence from Mexico to Argentina triggered a myriad of local initiatives that led to the re-organization of the cities from the newly freed republics to the nation-states before the Second World War,” explained Americas Society Visual Arts Director and Chief Curator Gabriela Rangel. “Metropolis is an effort that reveals the importance of archival research within a period that has been mostly overseen in the U.S. scholarship on Latin America. After Americas Society’s exploration of the emergence of mid-century modern design through our 2015 exhibition MODERNO: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela 1940-1978, we aim to present a previous step in the configuration of modern impulses and projects for the urban environment in small cities and big capitals.”

“Following independence, Latin Americans had an urgent desire to break with the colonial past. This desire was expressed through architecture and urban planning, among other ways,” said exhibition curator and The Getty Research Institute architecture curator Maristella Casciato. “Over a time of intense growth and social change, cities began to reshape themselves, removing or diminishing the power of colonial symbols through the construction of new civic buildings. As Latin American metropoles became dramatically reconfigured, these cities also became experimental laboratories where scientific planning mingled with natural environment to create forward looking approaches to city planning.”

“During the sixteenth century and for the next three centuries, town planning became a key tool for the colonial enterprise guiding the development of commercially functional and militarily strategic cities,” commented exhibition curator and The Getty Research Institute associate curator of Latin American art Idurre Alonso. “This exhibition traces the changes of six major capitals as independence, industry, and exchange of ideas altered their built environments and eventually transformed them into newly monumental, modern metropoles.”

Until about 1850, cities in Latin America maintained most of their colonial structures. The eventual adoption of modern architectural repertoires fostered the removal of symbols of colonial power and the construction of new civic buildings emphasizing each country’s own new self-view. By the later part of the nineteenth century significant changes, including massive migration to cities and the beginning of local industrialization, resulted in new urban development. In major cities, such as Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro, a fascination with the Parisian grands travaux (great works) of the second French empire resulted in the adoption of European planning models. Radial networks of avenues, as well as new parkways, public parks, and botanical gardens transformed cities. However, the legacy of the colonial city was still visible. For example, the civic plaza remained the cultural center of many cities, as it had in the colonial era.

In the 1910s, grand celebrations across Latin America marked 100 years of independence. These commemorations, which coincided with the end of World War I and a significant increase in immigration from Europe, sparked a reconsideration of national identity. Architects, planners, and politicians initiated a return to local architectural traditions, eschewing European influence for neo-colonial and neo pre-Hispanic styles. Later, a new generation of Latin American designers imagined utopian visions of the metropolis in modern ways.



from March 22, 2018 to June 30, 2018

Opening Reception on 2018-03-21 from 19:00 to 21:00

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