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Latin American Art  
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He became a master of Samba and created works that viewers had to experience physically, such as his penetráveis, suspended fabrics that revealed spatial relationships and encouraged spectator awareness. He created bolides (fireballs/nuclei), comprised of rocks, crystals, and soil in glass boxes. His use of inexpensive materials anticipated the "povera" movement in Italy.

He also created paragoles (relating to the joy of putting on clothes). These paragoles, which looked like body wraps, were designed in order to play with the boundaries of form and content and often provoked new modes of thinking about how clothes signal the gender of the wearer.

Other significant Brazilian artists in whose work there is significant gay content include Darcy Penteado (1926-1987), a book illustrator, fashion designer, and society portraitist, who devoted himself to the gay cause. Glauco Rodriguez (b. 1929), Geraldo Porto (b. 1950), and Edilson Viriato (b. 1966) have also created work with a gay sensibility.


Over the past few decades, interest in Latin American art has increased dramatically. Critics have attempted to assess the artistic impact of multiple social realities, including especially the potent African influence as filtered through Catholic culture.

While Latin American art was formerly alleged to be derivative or stereotyped as full of magic, mystery, and sensuality, it is now clear that Latin American art is in fact refreshingly diverse, highly personal, and very vibrant. The "hybrid" energy of this art is especially evident in the work of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual artists discussed above.

Notwithstanding advances in recent years, however, homosexuality remains almost invisible in many Latin American cultures. Artworks such as those discussed above lend much-needed insight into the social, political, and psychological lives of gay Latin Americans. One of the most powerful messages implicit in their work is the need to counteract the destructive impact of machismo and to embrace and celebrate diverse sexualities.

Joyce M. Youmans
Kieron Devlin

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literature >> Overview:  Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury circle's open acceptance of erotic license and hostility toward social convention are important elements in the history of homosexuality among the English upper classes in the first half of the twentieth century.

arts >> Overview:  Latina/Latino American Art

Latina/Latino lesbian and gay artists often confront, with a peculiarly personal urgency, the crucial issues of gender, sexuality, and acceptance that have obsessed American culture generally in the past several decades.

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: Nude Males

Throughout much of history, the nude male figure was virtually the only subject that could be used to articulate homoerotic desire in publicly displayed works of art, as well as those works of art intended for private "consumption."

arts >> Overview:  Subjects of the Visual Arts: St. Sebastian

Sebastian's broad and long-standing presence in queer artistic production suggests that he functions as an emblem of the feelings of shame, rejection, inverted desire, and loneliness endured by queer people in a homophobic society.

arts >> Overview:  Surrealism

An artistic movement that grew out of Dadaism and flourished in Europe shortly after World War I, Surrealism embraced the idea that art was an expression of the subconscious.

arts >> Overview:  Symbolists

The symbolist movement in painting and literature, which flourished in Europe from 1886 to 1905, was the first self-consciously queer movement in Western art history.

arts >> Bacon, Francis

Widely recognized as Britain's most important twentieth-century painter, Francis Bacon creates beautifully composed works featuring violent subject matter that at once repels and attracts.

arts >> Beardsley, Aubrey

English decadent and Symbolist artist Aubrey Beardsley made a lasting contribution to the art of illustration; a satirist with a gift for caricature and grotesquerie, Beardsley attacked Victorian sexual values.

arts >> Caballero, Luis

Luis Caballero HolguĂ­n, one of the most significant Latin American painters of the second half of the twentieth century, considered his homosexuality a fundamental component of his artistic expression.

arts >> Fini, Léonor

The work of bisexual artist Léonor Fini, which emphasizes female power and autonomy, may be seen as a response to the patriarchal assumptions of Surrealism.

literature >> García Lorca, Federico

The works of García Lorca, internationally recognized as Spain's most prominent lyric poet and dramatist of the twentieth century, are filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.

arts >> Géricault, Théodore

Throughout the work of Théodore Géricault, perhaps the best known nineteenth-century visual artist associated with Romanticism, is a discernible homoeroticism.

arts >> Grant, Duncan

One of the major British artists of the twentieth century, Duncan Grant was also the sexual catalyst of the Bloomsbury Circle.

arts >> Kahlo, Frida

Bisexual Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was a masterful exponent of cross-dressing, deliberately using male drag to project power and independence.

arts >> Nijinsky, Vaslav

One of the greatest dancers and most innovative choreographers in the history of ballet, Vaslav Nijinsky embodied the sensuality and sexual ambiguity associated with the distinctive new art of the twentieth century.

arts >> Zenil, Nahum B.

Mexican artist Nahum Zenil has consistently acknowledged and utilized his identity as a gay man to define his artistic personality.


Barnitz, Jacqueline. Twentieth Century Art of Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001.

Bleys, Rudi C. Images of Ambiente: Homotextuality and Latin American Art, 1810 to Today. New York: Continuum, 2000.

Chadwick, Whitney. Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. Boston: Little, Brown, 1985.

Cooper, Emmanuel. The Sexual Perspective: Homosexuality in Art of the Past 100 Years in the West. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986.

Douglas, Eduardo de Jesús. "The Colonial Self: Homosexuality and Mestizaje in the Art of Nahum B. Zenil." Art Journal 57.3 (Fall 1998): 14-21.

Herrera, Hayden. Frida Kahlo. New York: Harper Row, 1983.

Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York: Viking, 1999.

Scheldahl, Peter. "Hecho en Mexico." Village Voice 41.23 (June 4, 1996): 79.

Sullivan, Edward J. "Witness to the Self/Testigo del Ser." Nahum B. Zenil: Witness to the Self. San Francisco: The Mexican Museum, 1996.


    Citation Information
    Author: Youmans, Joyce M. ; Devlin, Kieron  
    Entry Title: Latin American Art  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated June 16, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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