AMA - Libertad de Expresión
February 19th, 2015
201 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

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

On view February 19 - June 7, 2015
Opening Reception: February 19, 2015 at 6pm
Panel Discussion: February 19, 2015 from 4-6pm


Libertad de Expresión – curated by Mark A. White, chief curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma – draws from AMA’s permanent collection and surveys the taste and collecting practices of founding director José Gómez Sicre and the OAS’ approach to cultural diplomacy. The Organization championed artists sympathetic to international trends in contemporary art, with the intention of demonstrating the cosmopolitanism the Caribbean, Central, and South America in the United States, while also emphasizing freedom of expression in the American republics. He explained later in life that his interest lay in those artists who combined “universal aesthetics with transformed elements of a surviving heritage,” resulting in a hybrid of modernist tendencies with the elements of an indigenous and colonial past.
This exhibition features artists who worked in many of the influential styles at mid-century, Surrealism, Concretism, Art Informel, and Abstract Expressionism, and who also experimented with forms and themes drawn from Pre-Columbian civilizations. Gómez Sicre believed that Latin American art, a term he helped to canonize, was largely defined by “diverse and at times even antagonistic physical and spiritual geographies,” and he lauded the “diversity of expressions” that contemporary artists had used to speak to modern experience and questions of identity. 
Gómez Sicre’s support for international modernism also allied him with U.S. cold warriors, who used freedom of expression as a tool in the cultural and intellectual struggle against the Soviets. As Claire Fox argues eloquently that Gómez Sicre’s cultural program was identified with said Cold War ideals. Despite Gómez Sicre’s interest in a “diversity of expressions,” he generally opposed muralism as represented by David Alfaro Siqueiros and his followers for its propagandistic affiliation with communism and its perceived stranglehold on Latin American art. Gómez Sicre avoided the muralists and social realists during his tenure, resulting in an imbalanced picture of Latin American art.

Libertad de expresión
, so to speak, serves as a lens through which this exhibition examines Gómez Sicre and AMA. AMA used art to champion the international aspirations of Latin American art and culture.
Thursday, February 19 from 4-6pm

Ambassador Hugo de Zela Martínez
Chief of Staff of the General Secretariat of the 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
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