The Grandes Dames of Latin American Art


In “The Grandes Dames of Latin American Art Explain Its Growing Appeal,” Lorena Muñoz-Alonso writes about the roles of Ella Fontanals-Cisneros and Estrellita Brodsky in the Latin American art world. In the interview (see excerpts below), the “grandes dames” speak about current the political atmosphere, ARCOMadrid, Miami Basel, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Cuban artists, among other topics:

Ella Fontanals-Cisneros

[. . .] What artists are you obsessed about at the moment?
I like my babies all the same [laughs], but in the last years I have developed a special interest in the Cuban art scene, and I have acquired a lot of works by Cuban artists. Now, I’m starting to diversify my focus a bit more, starting even to collect U.S. artists.

How do you think that the presidency of Donald Trump will affect Latin American culture in the States, and the Latin American market?
I am very worried about Cuba, especially. I don’t see President Trump showing an interest in promoting culture, no matter from where. He wants to eliminate the Endowment for the Arts, for example, which is so necessary for American artists, and that’s very worrying.

Also, the U.S. art market has led the way in terms of embracing and investing in Latin American art, so not having its support anymore would definitely be a blow. There’s about 50 million Latin American people in the U.S., and it’s the fastest growing population there, and It’d be a big mistake to forget and not support the culture and roots of such a large group. I hope that won’t be the case, and that he has advisors and people around him who’d help him see that. [. . .]

Estrellita Brodsky

How do you prefer to describe yourself: as a collector, philanthropist, curator?
I am professionally an art historian and curator who collects and supports the arts. Having written my doctoral dissertation on Latin American artists living in post-World War II Paris, I became more familiarized with this and the earlier generation of artists from the region. It helped form my interest in collecting art from Latin America, a place to which I have personal family ties, and a deep belief in the wealth of its various cultures.

Can you tell me what projects and initiatives are you working on at the moment?
I am working on the possibility of having the current exhibition which I curated at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), “Julio Le Parc: Form into Action,” travel to other U.S. museums. Through this first U.S. retrospective survey, I have sought to bring awareness to the important contributions made over the past six decades by Le Parc, overlooked until now in the U.S. Le Parc has been a pioneer in the fields of participatory art, kinetic art, and light installations. Driven by a solid utopian ethos, he continues to find new ways of engaging and empowering the viewer within a sociopolitical space through participation. [. . .]

Do Miami Basel and ARCOMadrid compete or complement each other?
Miami Basel is a much larger fair which makes the experience less personal than at ARCO. Miami Basel, too, has been a significant player in bringing attention to Latin America on a global level but the relationships at ARCO are more intimate between collector, work, galleries, and institutional exhibitions, and targeted to a more Latin- and European-based collector. [. . .]

For full article and interview, see

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