Libertad de Expresión:
The Art Museum of the Americas and Cold War Politics

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February 6, 2015
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Greg Svitil | T: 202.370.0147
[email protected] |

Libertad de Expresión: The Art Museum of the Americas and Cold War Politics

Organization of American States
201 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Opening Reception | Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 6pm

Panel Discussion | Thursday, February 19 from 4-6pm
Ambassador Hugo de Zela Martínez
Chief of Staff of the Secretary General, OAS

Mark Andrew White
Interim Director and Chief Curator, Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma and curator of exhibit

Claire Fox
Associate Professor of Spanish & co-director of the Latino Studies Minor, University of Iowa

Olga Ulloa Herrera
Director of the Washington, DC Office of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), University of Illinois at Chicago

WASHINGTON, DC – The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art of the University of Oklahoma present Libertad de Expresión: The Art Museum of the Americas and Cold War Politics, an exhibition showcasing a vibrant period of OAS art collecting. Curated by Mark Andrew White of the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of art, this exhibition demonstrates the AMA’s function as a critical branch of the OAS, promoting the arts and cultures of OAS member states through its collections and programs. This exhibition is part of an initiative led by AMA’s current director, Andrés Navia, to internationally promote the museum’s permanent collection and its relevance to the history of modern and contemporary Latin America and Caribbean art while linking it to fresher and more current critical analyses and perspectives.

During the Cold War, the Organization of American States, formerly the Pan American Union, actively promoted artists from Latin America and the Caribbean that demonstrated affiliation with influential modernist styles such as Constructivism, Surrealism, Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism. José Gómez-Sicre, the Visual Arts Specialist of the OAS, exhibited artists sympathetic to international trends in contemporary art, with the intention of demonstrating the cosmopolitanism of Latin artists and emphasizing freedom of expression in the American republics.

The exhibition examines how the both the OAS and its cultural arm, AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, advanced Latin American and Caribbean art and democratic values during the Cold War. Ironically, Gómez Sicre’s support for freedom of expression rarely included artists of a socialist or communist bent. The exhibition features more than 60 artists, including Joaquín Torres-García, Roberto Matta and Jesús Rafael Soto.

Libertad de Expresión: The Art Museum of the Americas and Cold War Politics will be accompanied by a panel discussion that will explore the role that the Cold War played in AMA’s collection building and how the Organization evolved and transformed itself to what it is today. The discussion will feature speakers from a variety of disciplines.

Among the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum’s contributors to the shape and scope of the exhibition, Ghislain d’Humières, now director of the The Speed Art Museum, played a key role supporting this exhibition when he was the Bill and Wylodean Saxon Director of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art.

The OAS, through Gómez Sicre, supported international modernism, a preference that allied him with U.S. cold warriors who used freedom of expression as a tool in the cultural and intellectual struggle against the Soviets. Freedom of expression was given a Latin cast through Gómez Sicre’s exhibition and collection policies and Libertad de expresión, so to speak, serves as a lens through which this exhibition examines Gómez Sicre and AMA. AMA used art as a form of cultural diplomacy with the intention of further understanding and cooperation between the Americas and, in the process, it championed the international aspirations of Latin American culture under the influence of the U.S.’s position in the midst of the Cold War.

This exhibition at AMA | Art Museum of the Americas is possible thanks to the support of the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma and the Friends of AMA.