Latin American Art
The mission of the Latin American art department and its research institute, the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), is to collect, exhibit, research, and educate the public about the diverse artistic production of Latin Americans and Latinos. Established in 2001, the department and the ICAA endeavor to open new avenues of intercultural dialogue through exhibitions, research, and publishing. The department has built a core collection of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic works in all media, from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, as well as by Latino artists in the United States. These objects complement existing holdings in photography, works on paper, decorative arts, painting, and sculpture, some of which entered the Museum as early as the 1930s. The total number of works of art by Latin Americans and Latinos at the MFAH surpasses 2,000.
International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA)
As the research arm of the Latin American art department, the ICAA oversees many of the investigations that generate exhibitions and programs. Through its signature project, Documents of 20th-Century Latin American and Latino Art, the ICAA provides free, universal access to more than 10,000 primary sources and critical documents tracing the development of 20th-century art in Latin America and among Latino populations in the United States. Recovered documents include manifestos, essays, lectures, correspondence, manuscripts, interviews, testimonies, and other textual materials written by authoritative sources—artists, critics, curators—from Latin America and the United States who have played a fundamental role in the development of modern and contemporary art. These texts provide the historic, artistic, and intellectual contexts for the recovered sources as well as outline directions for future research. The published documents are available through a digital archive and a book series, enabling scholars and students to consult materials that are exceedingly difficult to access in archives and repositories in Latin America and the United States.
The Museum is home to some of the finest examples of work by early-20th-century masters from Latin America, such as Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Maria Martins, Roberto Matta, Armando Reverón, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Xul Solar, and Joaquín Torres-García. The strength of the Latin American art holdings, however, lies in post–World War II artists and movements. At least three conceptual and/or stylistic nuclei are foundational to the collection: Concrete and Constructive art from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela; 1960s Neo-Figurative and Pop art tendencies; and contemporary art and new media. Concrete and Constructive art holdings include masterworks by artists of Argentina’s Madí group (Gyula Kosice, Carmelo Arden Quin, Rhod Rothfuss); the School of the South (Julio Alpuy, Gonzalo Fonseca, José Gurvich, Francisco Matto); Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt); and a large ensemble of light-, water-, and viewer-activated Kinetic works by Paris-based Latin American artists (Antonio Asís, Marta Boto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Julio Le Parc, García Rossi, Jesús Rafael Soto, Luis Tomasello, Gregorio Vardanega). The iconoclastic production of the 1960s, in turn, is represented with experimental sculpture and painting by innovators from Argentina (Luis Benedit, Antonio Berni, Juan Carlos Distéfano, León Ferrari, Víctor Grippo, Alberto Heredia, Luis Felipe Noé) and Colombia (Beatriz González). In contemporary art and new media, the Museum has pursued a vast array of large-scale sculptures and installations by cutting-edge artists (Tania Bruguera, María Fernanda Cardoso, Los Carpinteros, Carmela Gross, Alfredo Jaar, Guillermo Kuitca, Teresa Margolles, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Cildo Meireles, Gabriel de la Mora, Oscar Muñoz, Liliana Porter, Miguel Angel Ríos, Regina Silveira, Carlos Runcie Tanaka, Javier Téllez, Tunga).
Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art
The cornerstone of the Museum’s Constructive art holdings is the Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art, acquired in 2007. This world-renowned collection consists of more than 100 extraordinary examples by Concrete and Neo-Concrete groups that flourished in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro between 1950 and 1965. Featured prominently in the Leirner Collection is the innovative production by the leaders of these two groups—Lygia Clark, Waldemar Cordeiro, and Hélio Oiticica—as well as works by independent artists such as Milton Dacosta, Mira Schendel, and Alfredo Volpi. The Leirner Collection is featured on the Google Art Project.
The Brillembourg Capriles Collection of Latin American Art
Assembled by Venezuelan philanthropist Tanya Capriles de Brillembourg, this extraordinary collection on long-term loan to the MFAH features more than 100 works by Latin American masters of the first half of the 20th century. Concentrations of master works by Emilio Pettoruti, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Joaquín Torres-García, Armando Reverón, Wifredo Lam, and Matta showcase avant-garde achievements across the Spanish-speaking region. The collection also includes emblematic paintings by Fernando Botero, Rufino Tamayo, Armando Morales, and Antonio Segui produced at the height of their respective careers. In the last decade the collection has grown to include pioneering constructivist works by Loló de Soldevilla, Sandú Darié, Carlos Rojas, as well as contemporary Kinetic installations by Elias Crespin, many of which were featured in the 2013 MFAH exhibition Intersecting Modernities: The Brillembourg Capriles Collection.
Caribbean Art Fund Collection
In 2011, the Museum established an accessions fund with Fundación Gego, Caracas, to acquire works from Venezuela, Colombia, Central America, and the Caribbean. The Caribbean Art Fund has allowed the Museum to gather a broad range of innovative works in all media by artists born in these countries after 1960. Among the artists included in this collection are Tanya Bruguera, Johana Calle, Yoan Capote, Los Carpinteros, José Gabriel Fernández, Juan Iribarren, and Roberto Obregón. Through the Caribbean Art Fund, the Museum also has begun to build an outstanding collection of video installations by leading exponents of this medium, such as Magdalena Fernández, Óscar Muñoz, Javier Telléz, José Alejandro Restrepo, and Miguel Angel Rojas.
Cruz-Diez Foundation Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The Cruz-Diez Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in Houston in 2005 in collaboration with the MFAH and committed to preserving, developing, exhibiting, and researching the artistic and conceptual legacy of Franco-Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, one of the 20th century’s seminal thinkers in the field of color. More than 100 key works owned by the foundation, including paintings, silk-screen prints, innovative chromatic structures, and room-size chromatic environments, are housed at the Museum, which promotes their study, exhibition, and maintenance. The MFAH/Cruz-Diez partnership has been fundamental to documenting the artist’s investigations into optical phenomena, Kineticism, and color theory, and strives to make accessible to the public and lending institutions its research as well as the the opportunity to experience Cruz-Diez’s most pioneering accomplishments.
Fundación Gego Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Since 2003, the Museum has served as leading center for scholarship, exhibition, and care of work by German-born Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrud Goldschmidt). As part of a long-term partnership with Fundación Gego, the Museum houses more than 400 Gego works, from her early drawings, prints, and three-dimensional stainless-steel constructions of the late 1950s to her distinctive wire drawings—dibujos sin papel (drawings without paper)—and tejeduras (weavings) of the late 1970s and 1980s. The MFAH/Fundación Gego partnership has also produced two exhibitions and four books.
- Antonio Berni: Juanito and Ramona
- Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- Carlos Cruz-Diez: Color in Space and Time
- Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America
- Gego: Between Transparency and the Invisible
- Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color
- Intersecting Modernities: Latin American Art from the Brillembourg-Capriles Collection
- Modern and Contemporary Masterworks from Malba – Fundación Costantini
- Sabiduras and Other Texts by Gego
- Untangling the Web: Gego’s “Reticulárea,” An Anthology of Critical Response
- Additional highlights of the ICAA publication program
Members of the Latin Maecenas support the Latin American art department and the ICAA. Patrons learn about the exciting field of Latin American and Latino art through lectures by visiting artists, seminars with experts in the field, and visits to some of the most prominent private collections in Houston and abroad. In addition, members have the opportunity to interact with important Latin American and Latino artists; travel internationally with Museum curators; and learn how to recognize valuable opportunities in this rapidly expanding market.
Join Latin Maecenas
ICAA Ideas Council
The ICAA Ideas Council brings art advocates, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and cultural leaders together with representatives from government, corporate, and nonprofit sectors. Through annual conferences, focused conversations, and workshops, the council analyzes critical issues and explores creative, innovative solutions to current or endemic problems affecting the visual arts field in Latin America and the Latino arts community in the United States. Participation in this think-tank group is by invitation only.
Contact us about joining the ICAA Ideas Council
The MFAH Collections
To explore all of the Museum’s works of art, search the collection.