Social and Political Role of the Arts in Chile and Latin America

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Course Information
Latin American Studies
Art History
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



This course examines the links between anti-establishment and aesthetic praxis in Latin America since 1930. Topics are organised in two modules.  Painting, music and theatre are studied through the lens of political, social and economic change, with particular emphasis on Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. A general overview on Latin American music and theatre developments during the 20th Century includes a study of classic and popular music. Students will attend performances and exhibits in Santiago and Valparaiso.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance and punctuality are mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course-related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies.

If a student misses more than 1.5 classes (for courses taught once a week) or 2.5 classes (for courses taught twice a week) in any course, the final grade will be reduced by one-third of a letter grade (for example, A- to B+) for every additional unexcused absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Punctuality: Students who are late to class will receive a .5 absence. Arriving in class more than 15 minutes late will result in 1 absence.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • know and understand the role of culture in the construction of local identity
  • recognise distinct theoretical and ideological positions
  • learn and analyse the relationship between art, history, and sociopolitical context and how Latin American artists developed during the 20th century
  • know and understand the cultural problems of Latin America that has manifested during the 20th century
  • develop skills in reading and writing in Spanish
  • think critically of these movements and artists
Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures
  • Seminar
  • Field study
Field study: 
  • Chilean Palace of Fine Arts
  • OpenMuseum in Valparaíso
  • private art galleries
Required work and form of assessment: 

Each module is worth 30% of the final grade for a total of 90%:

  • Module One: Group Presentation - 30%; Group Paper - 70%;
  • Module Two: Exam - 50%; Class Participation - 25%; Response Paper - 25%;
  • Module Three: Group Presentation - 30%; Group Paper - 70%;

Final Group Presentation - 10%





Session 1

Introduction: Framework of the course

  • Objectives, methodology, required assessment, field trips and evaluation of each module
  • General overview of the Arts influence in Chilean and Latin American social and political developments
  • Three involved teachers: (1)painting, (2)cinema, (3)music and theatre

Session 2

Chilean painting in the early 20th century: The generation of 1928

Héctor Cáceres, Ana Cortés, Armando Lira, Inés Puyó

Session 3

Searching for a national identity: The generation of 1940

Class will take place at the Chilean Palace of Fine Arts

Israel Roa, Sergio Montecino, Carlos Pechaza, Ximena Cristi, Fernando Morales Jordán, Arturo Pacheco Altamirano

Session 4

Expressions of social, religious, philosophical and political distress in Chilean paintings

Field trip to the Open Museum in Valparaíso, to watch the first experience to create an “living museum” in Latin America

Gregorio de la Fuente, Pedro Lobos

Session 5

Contemporary Chilean Painting. New expressions and public sites: graffiti

Field trip to private art galleries in Santiago downtown to view the following painters

Roberto Matta, Mario Carreño, Nemesio Antúnez and Enrique Zañartu, Ernesto Barreda, Ramón Vergara Grez, Matilde Pérez and Alejandro Siña, Roser Bru, José Balmes, Gracia Barrios

Session 6

Evaluation of the module: Groups of three students choose one of the previous suggested painters to prepare a 10-minute oral presentation and write a 20 page paper. Content must include a short biography of the painter, social and political context where he/she developed the piece, the meaning of this piece of art and in particular, to register their own personal impressions.


Session 7

An overview on Latin American music history

Development in Argentina, Mexico, Chile

Analysis of the strong European influence


Session 8

Chilean music in the second half of the 20th century

New music: Introduction of electronic and acoustic elements

Identification process of “the Latin music” as part of the social and political movement to make worthier Latin culture


Session 9

An overview of theatre in Chile and Latin America: The most important plays


Session 10

Chilean popular music and theatre involved in anti-establishment protest: Companies, players and actors, circus and theatre


Session 11

Evaluation of Music and Theatre Module: Groups of three students choose one of the previous suggested topics to prepare a 10-minute oral presentation (30%) and write a 20 page paper (70%). Evaluation finishes with broad discussion and conclusions.


Session 12

Final Presentations: Students divide into three groups. Each group makes a 20-minute oral presentation on one of the three modules, pointing out anti-establishment art expressions discovered in the course through painting, cinema, music and theatre. Final discussions and conclusions to follow.

Required readings: 
  • Bal, Mieke, “Arte para lo político”, Revista de Estudios Visuales en Pág 40 a 65.
  • García Canclini, Néstor, “¿De qué hablamos cuando hablamos de resistencia?”, revista Estudios visuales en Pág. 16 a 36.
  • Escobar, Ticio, “El arte latinoamericano: el deber y el haber de lo global”. Pp181-197
  • Lauer, Mirko, “Introducción”, pág. 11 a 29. Introducción a la pintura peruana del S. XX, Edit Mosca Azul.
  • Longoni, Ana y Mestman, Mariano, “Pate I: la trama”, Del Di Tella a Tucumán Arde.Edit Eudeba.
  • Mariátegui, Carlos, “El problema del indio”, 7 ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana,en
  • Masiello, F, “ El arte de la transición” Pp.13 a 40 y 99 a 103.
  • Mignolo, Walter, “Prologo” y “El Occidentalismo y la “americanicidad” de América”, La idea de América Latina, La herida colonial y la opción decolonial. Gedisa, 2007.
  • Pérez Ratton, Virginia, “El caribe invisible”, Pág. 109 a 136, “La impermanencia de la imagen en el contexto colombiano: Oscar Múñoz”, Pág 222 a 224. Del estrecho dudoso a un caribe invisible. Apuntes sobrearte centroamericano.Universitat de Valencia, 2007.
  • Pizarro, Ana,  El Sur y los trópicos, Boston: Wellesly College pág. 177 a 190.
  • Ramírez, Maricare & Olea, Héctor, “Antropophagic Utopia: barbarian metaphysics”, pág. 57 a 71 y “ Inversion: The School of the South. Pág. 73 a 83. Inverted Utopies: Avant Garde in Latin America. New York: Yale University Press, 2004.
  • Skidmoe, Thomas y Smih, Peter H. “Capitulo 3: Argentina”, “Capítulo 5: Brasil”, “Capítuo 7: México”, Historia Contemporánea de América latina. América latina en el siglo XX.
  • Subercaseaux, Bernardo, Nacionalismo e integración en Chile (Una etapa en la constitución de las identidades nacionales), Santiago, Pág 1 a 13.