Latin America has a long and rich tradition of portraiture. In its countries, as elsewhere, portraits have preserved the likeness of individuals both living and dead, bolstered the social standing of the aristocracy, marked the deeds of the mighty, recorded rites of passage, and established and preserved the historical record. Portraits have also connected the individual to the family and the family to the community, bound together disparate populations, and helped establish national identity. Portraiture provides valuable insights into the lives and minds of the artist and the sitter, as well as their time and place.
Retratos: 2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits is an overview comprising more than 100 portraits from over 15 countries. The exhibition begins in the Precolumbian era, continues through the viceregal and independence periods, and into the modern era. It ends with contemporary portraiture, which demonstrates the sustained vitality of this tradition. As a group, these paintings and sculptures suggest not only common artistic threads but also provide important insights into the social and political history of Latin America.
This exhibition is organized by the San Antonio Museum of Art; the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and El Museo del Barrio, New York.