Publication

  • Constructing Latin America: Architecture, Politics, and Race at the Museum of Modern Art
    Patricio del Real
    Author
    Yale University Press, 2021
  • GRANTEE
    Patricio del Real
    GRANT YEAR
    2021

Carlos Raul Villanueva (second from left) and Max Borges Jr.(on right) and companions at the opening of the exhibition, "Latin American Architecture Since 1945." November 23, 1955–February 19, 1956. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10" (20.3 x 25.4 cm). Photo: Barry Kramer. Courtesy The Museum of Modem Art Archives. The Museum of Modem Art, New York, NY. Digital Image. Copyright The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY

Constructing Latin America: Architecture, Politics, and Race at The Museum of Modern Art follows the allure of Latin America’s modern architecture and the network of international interests that made it a vision of the future in the mid-twentieth century. Caught in the web of international politics, the emergence of cultural diplomacy, and second postwar-era modernization, the region’s architecture became a political tool used to invent “Latin America” as a knowable and consumable land south of the United States. Behind this image was The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Working in collaboration with the United States government and corporations, as well as the region’s elites and national governments that sought closer relations with the United States, the museum's Department of Architecture and Design sought to deliver a modern, progressive, and democratic Latin America. Through vigorous and diverse cultural programs, MoMA deployed politically and racially coded aesthetic constructs to navigate the threat of fascism and communism, the friendly neighborhood of Pan Americanism and the hardline unilateralism of the Cold War. Its exhibitions were a means to manage “Americanness” in a globalizing world, and Latin American architecture was a key tool in its cultural arsenal.

Patricio del Real is assistant professor in the department of history of art and architecture at Harvard University. He holds a doctorate from Columbia University and a master’s of architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He has taught at several universities in the United States and Latin America, and was visiting associate research scholar and lecturer in the Program of Latin American Studies at Princeton University. He worked at MoMA’s architecture and design department, on several collection and temporary exhibitions, and cocurated Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980, which received the Society of Architectural Historian's 2017 Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award, recognizing excellence of architectural history scholarship in exhibition catalogues. He was the recipient of the 2015 Ann and Lee Tannenbaum Award for Excellence in Curatorial Practices, given by The Museum of Modern Art’s board of trustees.