Latin American Art and Its Influence in the United States

Siqueiros and Pollock; Matta, Lorca and Picasso; and Choc Mools and Henry Moore: de-colonial note

By Jimmy Centeno
Published on LatinoLA: January 17, 2012

Latin American Art and Its Influence in the United States

An article published in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada on January 7, 2012 by Carlos Paul titled "Pollock Aprendio de Siqueiros La tecnica que lo Aprendo" describes the influence of muralist David Alfaro Siqueiro had on Anglo American abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock by means of the action painting technique.

It was Siqueiro's creative invention, according to the article in where he would have students punch a hole in a paint can and drip paint onto a board that involved the entire body movement.(1) Art Historian Shifra Goldman states "Without Siqueiros' discovery of synthetic paints for the fine arts and the accidental effects that could be achieved, Pollock's most famous style could not have occurred."(2) Not only did Anglo Americans learn from Siqueiros their art form techniques but owe much of their art schooling from Latin American artist.

Art historian Shifra Goldman in "The Latin American-ization of the United States" describes Henry Kissinger's arrogance, "In 1969, during a meeting of American states in Vi??a del Mar, Chile, Kissinger is quoted as saying "Nothing of importance can come from the South; history is not made in the South." (3) Such attitude has yet not ceased to exist.

This de-colonial note is but a miniseries of notes intended to unearth hidden histories with small vignettes of de-colonial information. The wish is that this information can further shed light to Latin America's contribution to the art world in particularly in the United States.

One example is Chilean surrealist/muralist Roberto Matta. He was trained in Chile as an architect. After his graduation in 1933 at the age of 22 he ventured of to Spain. It was here where he met Spanish poet Federico Lorca, Pablo Picasso and so on. After the civil war outbreak in Spain in 1938 Roberto Matta left to New York. In the New York art scene of the late 30s not only did he meet artists Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Williem De kooning and Mark Rothko but influenced their abstract expressionist art form as well.

Matta's friendship with Gorky awoke in him the emotional and sentimental imagination in his artwork, which until then had been ignored (4) It would be Matta and many more Latin American artists, that shaped Anglo American art on the East coast, a fact buried beneath tons of Eurocentric lies. (5)

Another notable European is sculptor Henry Moore (British). He took his "Q" from Mayan stone sculptures such as the Choc Mools a Meso-America influence in his works.(6) According to Merry Macmaster Mexican sculptor German Cueto "invent??" una exposici??n de m?íscaras que impact?? a muchos artistas, entre ellos Henry Moore." (7) Art Historian Shifra Goldman argues, "If European and Latin American modernism both drew on 'primitivism' - a misnomer for pre-Columbian and folk arts - why should only the European model be considered 'vanguard' while the Latin American was relegated to a second-class status, intellectually and aesthetically?"(8)

Redirecting our attention to Europe regarding Picasso, he too is in debt to African art forms. I quote Jean Baudrillard although he is a postmodernist who believes that humanity is no longer capable of emancipating themselves (the possibility for liberation is no longer possible) he critics Picasso by saying the following: "The west decks its self out only in the spoils of all the other countries [...] Picasso annexes the best of a primitive art form and the Africans artist today copies Picasso as part of an international aesthetics."(9)

I end this de-colonial note with the hopes to have shed light on the dismembering practices imposed from above by the cultural industry located in core centers of power, hence the western elite societies.

To be continued...


(1) "Pollock Aprendio de Siqueiros La tecnica que lo Aprendo"
(2) Shifra Goldman: The Latin American-ization of the United States, Published in Art Nexus No. 29 (July-Sept; Aug-Oct, 1998).
(3) Shifra Goldman: The Latin American-ization of the United States, Published in Art Nexus No. 29 (July-Sept; Aug-Oct, 1998).
(4) Miguel Angel Mu??oz: La arquitectura de la emoci??n, La jornada February 2, 2003 number 413
(7) Merry Macmaster: Rivive el interes por la obra Vanguardista de German Cueto, La Jornada September 24, 2006
(8) Shifra Goldman: The Latin American-ization of the United States, Published in Art Nexus No. 29 (July-Sept; Aug-Oct, 1998).
(9) Jean Baudrillard: Carnival and Cannibal, page 8

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