In the aftermath of World War II, South American artists and critics saw color as a key to liberation from the crisis of the art object and the related crisis of modernity. In so doing, they resisted an entrenched postwar suspicion of color's expressive qualities that elsewhere resulted in color either being repositioned as readymade or purged outright. The essays comprising “Color and Abstraction in Latin America” investigate what was at stake in this resurgence, in 1950s and '60s South American abstraction, of color as a central problem of perceptual experience and subject construction. First, color was conceptualized in relation to material experience, as a corporealization (whether individual or collective) that relocates us as subjects. Second, color became the basis for a complex negotiation that laid claim to chromatic abstraction as a universal project through its localized articulation within the developmentalist contexts of postwar South America. Third, all of these artists and writers contextualized their aesthetic maneuvers in relation to Europe, positioning their work as a resuscitation of the historical avant-garde's utopian aspirations in the wake of the latter's failure in the aftermath of World War II. The essays collected here reassess the role of color in postwar art, to reconsider in light of the varied experiences of developmentalist South American nations what are by now familiar concerns regarding the effects of the commercialization of human imagination and memory, the pervasiveness of culture industry spectacle, and the corrosion of subjectivity imposed by industrial capital.

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