Vistas del Sur: Traveler Artists' Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection
As early as the 17th century, artists from Europe and North America began venturing to Latin America to explore and record its rich and varied landscape. Over time, the work of these “traveler artists” impacted, and was influenced by, the work of artists native to the region. Vistas del Sur: Traveler Artists' Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection features more than 200 rarely seen paintings, photographs, works on paper, and books dating from 1638 to 1887, that trace the evolution of landscapes of Latin America by artists from Europe and the Americas, including Frederic Edwin Church, Martin Johnson Heade, Frans Post, Auguste Morisot, José María Velasco, and Marc Ferrez, among others. Their works—which range from romanticized scenes and directly observed illustrations of New World travel and expeditions, to scientific records of botanical, zoological, and ethnographic phenomena—attest to the ways in which traveler artists experienced Latin America, and the challenges they faced in reconciling preconceived ideals with the realities they encountered.
In 1639, Dutch artist Frans Post distinguished himself as one of the first trained European landscapists to paint the New World from direct observation, at a time when landscape painting was still in its infancy. His depictions of Brazil represent the earliest views of the continent featured in Vistas del Sur. Following the Latin American Wars of Independence in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the continent opened up to greater geographic and aesthetic exploration by foreigners. International artists were drawn to the region, inspired by the expeditions of Prussian naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt, as well as by commercial missions dispatched by foreign governments, or their own aesthetic interests. In the mid-19th century, North American artists from the Hudson River School began to venture into the genre of South American landscapes. Frederic Edwin Church aspired to retrace Humboldt’s expedition, capturing it with new techniques and spirit. Near the end of the century, native-born artists began reflecting upon their culture and landscape through a different lens. José María Velasco’s paintings of Mexico not only demonstrate his adoption of the European enlightenment sensibility, but also illustrate the artist’s growing sense of national identity.
Vistas del Sur is arranged in two distinct but related sections. The Richard and Virginia McKernan Gallery presents an introduction to landscapes of Latin America, and an extensive exploration of how European traditions of landscape painting evolved when used to depict the New World. In the Stitzer Family Gallery, Auguste Morisot’s 1886 expedition up the Orinoco River serves as a centerpiece of the installation, and includes photographs, drawings, and prints. Morisot’s archive demonstrates the emergence of photography in the 19th century and its relationship to the conventions of painting and representing the exotic landscape.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Hunter College, and is curated by Dr. Harper Montgomery, Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art at Hunter College, New York, and students from her 2015 master’s course, Curatorial Practicum: Subjectivity and the Nineteenth-Century Latin American Landscape.
Support for the exhibition has been generously provided by the Vistas del Sur Leadership Committee: Raul and Emilie de Brigard, Katherine and Stephen Dow, Anita Arcuni Ferrante and Anthony Ferrante, Maria Helena Pinheira Penna and Fernando de Mello Barreto, Marenda and Todd Stitzer, Kathy Wadsworth and Jorge Delano, and Kathryn West.
- Alexander Von Humboldt
- The Picturesque Landscape
- Modern Landscape
- Auguste Morisot in Venezuela
- Light and Atmosphere
- The Book
Bonus Materials (?)
- Female Eyes on South America
- video link and/or embed