Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art

Ilan Stavans and Jorge J. E. Gracia. Duke Univ., $22.95 (248p) ISBN 978-0-8223-5634-9
Literary writer Stavans (The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature) and philosopher Gracia (Painting Borges) engage in a series of dialogues on Latino art, moving broadly through the humanities and social sciences while reaching consistent insight. The works of art are, by Stavans’s own description, “excuses” for the dialogue more than sites of focused inquiry. They reflect an appropriately diverse group of artists and styles, including a 1962 Mariana Yampolsky photograph, a crayon and graphite image by outsider artist Martin Ramirez, and one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s recognizable skulls. While there are moments at which the writers arrive at a fresh viewing, they more often use the art as a platform to speak broadly of human life, preferring the wide aperture of much philosophic writing that can lend itself to generalizations. Usefully, the sweeping nature of many statements is offset by the dialogic mode, with both writers as comfortable disagreeing as they are bolstering each other’s insights. While there are moments that lag, there are also moments that shine, especially when Stavans and Gracia draw on their own lived experiences, twining narrative with philosophy. Color illus. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 241 pages - 978-0-8223-7688-0
Hardcover - 240 pages - 978-0-8223-5627-1
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