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Against the Survey

Using the holdings of the Davis Museum at Wellesley College as a case study, this illustrated volume reconsiders the contours of “Latin American Art” and launches a rich, broad, gem of a collection into the public sphere for the first time.

Davis Museum, Wellesley College
January 2019
This book is out of print and no longer available.
7.75 x 11 | 256 pages, 200 color illustrations, 2 foldouts |

The Davis Museum’s groundbreaking curatorial project, Art__Latin__America: Against the Survey, reconsiders conventional frameworks for understanding, exhibiting, and discussing Latin American and Latinx art. This illustrated volume, published with the exhibition, features 70 essays by leading scholars and specialists from across the Americas on an exceptional selection of art works, many never before seen or published.

The Davis collection includes more than 550 works connected to the region known as “Latin America”—as site of production, place of origin, or point of reference. The exhibition features 150 highlights, in all media, by over 100 artists from across the Americas, including the US. The works are organized into eight compelling themes that reveal particular strengths of the collection: Identity and Territory, City and Country, War and Loss, Protest and Resistance, Workers and Farmers, Models and Mothers, Saints and Rituals, and Geometry and Gesture.

Contrary to familiar museological conventions of the chronological survey or geographic overview, Art__Latin__America includes works from radically different times and places, juxtaposing the familiar and the unknown, the expected and unexpected, generating new visual conversations and challenging viewers and readers to rethink preexisting canons and narratives. In fact, the project proposes an expansive definition of the very term “Latin American.” The result is unlike any other book on the topic.


James Oles
Boston, Massachusetts

A specialist in Latin American art, scholar and curator James Oles focuses on modern Mexican art and architecture. His books include South of the Border and Art and Architecture in Mexico. He is senior lecturer in the art department at Wellesley College, and adjunct curator of Latin American art at the Davis Museum.


“[A] beatifully illustrated, informative, and welcome catalogue...Contributed by Oles and 40 other specialists, the individual entries—all written in clear, elegant prose—situate the artists historically and engage the works critically and with visual sensitivity.”

Art_Latin_America: Against the Survey feels like a new type of 'survey,' one that refutes and embraces canonical and lesser-known artists, and thus one that would work well as a compulsory, but pleasurable, textbook for any university lecture course or seminar focused on Latin-American art, art in Latin America, notions of American artistic exchanges, and the gray space that exists in-between Art_Latin and Latin_America.”
Bulletin of Spanish Visual Studies

“Beautifully designed...One of the greatest strengths of the volume is the depth of insight offered in [the] relatively short essays with their illustrations. The quality of the photographs and the printing makes this library of images an important component of the ideas communicated in the text...the representation of women as artists and as authors for the catalog makes the publication an important resource. The role women have played and are playing in the cultures represented is visible here in a way that it too often is not.”
Chiricú Journal