Latin American Art Market Expands its Reach

Latin American Art Market - Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera, The Café Terrace (1915) Source: The Met

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the culture and contributions and those who identify as Latino/a. One of the largest aspects of Latin American culture that has added to its vibrancy is art. Many prominent artists have emerged from Central and South America over the last two centuries and beyond including Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Mira Schendel, among others. As the contemporary art market continues to have a farther reach, this means that there are many more international areas in play. The Latin American art market has been one of its leading beneficiaries.

With the art world becoming global, this means the artists who are participating in this marketplace are adding to this diversity. Since Sotheby’s held its first Latin American art sale in 1979, this sector of the market has continued to grow steadily. According to the ArtTactic Global Art Market Outlook released in February “The survey found a positive outlook across all 10 regional markets it surveyed, with the most positive sentiment emanating from Africa, South Asia, the U.S., and Latin America.”

This has signalled a change in the kinds of works being produced and the growing diversity of artists worldwide. Recently, Sotheby’s, announced it would be integrating Latin American art into its larger contemporary art sales. This points to a bigger move being made within cultural and art institutions across the world that have been working Latin American art into their post-war collections.

Latin American Art Market - Juan Downey
Juan Downey, Map of America (1975) Source: Museum of Modern Art

Recently the Museum of Modern Art displayed work by various Latin American artists shown side by side with works by North American and European artists. In a similar fashion, there are several exhibitions that will be held across Southern California that will explore the connection between Latin America and Los Angeles which is part of a larger initiative through the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Latin American Art Market - Pacific Standard Time

Latin America has become a hotbed for talented artists and a maturing art market. Part of this shift has occurred because the definition of what is considered to be Latin America for some has come to include the Caribbean. Additionally, there has been increased interest surrounding the history of Latin American art over the last 20 years resulting in more prominent art galleries and museums across the globe making an effort to collect works from this region of the world. With this increased interest, this also points to a higher number of sales from artists from this part of the world.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s reported that the sale of Latin American art was 11% percent higher in 2015 than in 2014. The growing Latin American art market means that more eyes are on this part of the world and the kind of the art being produced. The increased number of Latin American artists being shown in museums also suggests that it will result in a rise in the sale of artists from this country at art fairs. With so much in flux, with the art market there are many prominent and emerging artists to watch coming from this region of the world.

A 2016 list of emerging artists to watch included several artists from Latin America like Pia Camil from Mexico City and Fritzia Irizar also of Mexico. Camil works with both found and produced objects and is inspired by the urban cityscape of her native Mexico City. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Art and Design and in 2014 had a breakout show at LA’s Blum & Poe which put her on the radar of art insiders. She also had a solo show within the lobby space of the New Museum in January last year. Camil’s peer Fritzia Irizar is also carving out her own space within the art world through her use of conceptual use of materials and employs both sculptural and performative qualities. It is Irizar’s use of quotidian objects and her larger process and the meticulous attention to detail that is helping to set her apart from other artists working today.

When it comes to more established artists making their way in the art world, David Guzman, is one artist who tops the list. Guzman who has been featured in Sotheby’s Latin Art sale since 2012. He is also from Mexico and his dynamic sculptures have become a force to be reckoned with. Another artist who has left their mark on the art world is painter Carlos Quintana. Quintana who was born in Cuba creates illustrative canvases that are reminiscent of Gauguin and Van Gogh. The lush colors take the viewer to another time and place and possess temporal qualities similar to Francis Bacon.

As the Latin American art market continues to grow, all signs point to more sales. A March 2017 article from Art Trak also outlined the ways this market will keep further its progress. There are many established and up and coming artists who are helping to change the face of the Latin American art world and in time, this portion of the world will reach its full art and cultural potential.

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About the Author:

Anni Irish has been a contributing writer to several online publications including Boston based publication, The Dig, New York Arts Magazine, and ArteFuse among others. She holds a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University, an MA in Gender and Cultural Studies from Simmons College, and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University.