Pablo Fasce: The Aesthetic Imagination and the Andean World: Itineraries and Exchanges of Artists through the Argentinian Northwest Region, Bolivia and Peru (1910-1955)

In this research project, I intend to investigate the contribution made by Argentine artists to the itineraries, aesthetic debates and visual representations of the Andean world (a vast region that includes the northwest region of Argentina and the territories of Bolivia and Peru) between 1910 and 1955. During this period there was a constant mobilization of artists who, with their own funds or thanks to scholarships offered by official institutions, moved to the aforementioned region seeking to get in touch with a geography and cultural context, in which, according to their own interpretations, an aesthetic identity of authentic American value could be found. I am interested in addressing this problem within the framework of the various discourses on aesthetic modernity and its links with the debates on  concepts of nation and identity that took place in Latin America during the first half of the 20th century.

This project is a continuation and an extension of my doctoral thesis, which focused on the institutionalization of the arts in the northwest region of Argentina. This process was materialized by the creation of museums, teaching academies and the professionalization of artistic practice in general terms. This led me to investigate the construction of images of the landscape and the inhabitants of the region, which functioned as a way of stating the importance of that area in creating a local aesthetic to consolidate national identity. The influence of cultural nationalism, the development of archeology and transnational debates about Americanism led artists to create representations of the landscape, the traditions of the rural popular classes, and the indigenous world and colonial past that still survived in the present. All these aspects were considered part of an identity that was supposedly untouched by processes of immigration and social modernization. These ways of imagining the northwest region of Argentina led artists to become aware of the links between that area of the country and the territories of Bolivia and Peru, which shared a common history that defied the present national boundaries. In addition, the vast archaeological and colonial heritage of these countries, as well as the survival of these indigenous legacies in the present, transformed them as privileged sceneries for the pursuit of the types and customs represented by the artists. The dissemination of avant-garde ideas and experiences introduced new factors that fueled an interest in the Andes: the positive value of “primitive” art and its ritual character pushed new generations of artists towards the encounter with ancestral cultures in which they hoped to find an alternative to overcome the spiritual crisis of the West. Because of this, the Andean space captivated the imagination of a large number of diverse artists for a long time.

The main objective of this investigation is to deepen the way of reflecting on a theme of Argentine and Latin American Art History that has been only partially addressed in the past. I intend to put the interpretations on the dynamics of the Argentine arts in a regional perspective that has not yet been fully investigated: the circulation of ideas and images throughout the Andean region. This type of inquiry will favor a decentered interpretation of Latin American Art History that questions stylistic categories, geographical limits and traditional historical blocks. In addition, this research project aims to make a contribution to the debates about the category of aesthetic modernity that, at least during the last decades, has occurred in Art History, both in Latin America and in the rest of the world.

Pablo Fasce was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina), where he lives and works today. He has a PhD in history from the Instituto de Altos Estudios Sociales of the Universidad Nacional de San Martín (IDAES-UNSAM). His thesis, entitled “The Northwest and the Institutionalization of the Arts in Argentina: Transits, Dialogues and Tensions between Region and Nation (1910-1955)”, was presented in December 2017. Fasce is Assistant Professor at IDAES-UNSAM and the Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). He currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship granted by the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). He has also received funding from the Argentine Ministry of Culture and the Getty Foundation. Among his recent publications is “The Argentine Northwest as an Entrance into the Andean World: Nativism and Americanism in the Aesthetic Debates of the Early Twentieth Century”, published in Volume 12 of the journal Artelogie (2018).


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