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Joaquín Torres-García, Composition, 1932. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Museum purchase with funds provided by the 20th-Century Art Acquisition and Endowment Funds, the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, Jon B. and Lillian Lovelace, and Les and Zora Charles.
Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990
February 16 – May 26, 2013

Showcasing the Museum’s significant collection of 20th-century Latin American art, this exhibition examines the multifaceted art produced in Latin America during this dynamic 60-year period. The presentation features a diverse selection of more than 60 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and photography from the permanent collection and selected private collections. Myth and materiality are concepts prevalent throughout the exhibition, providing platforms to consider works on both individual and universal levels—from the cosmic realm to the everyday world. Myths have long served as powerful forces in Latin American art, giving visual form to political and religious ideologies and deeply personal narratives. Materiality refers to that which constitutes the material of something or material existence, addressing the physical composition of the works considered as well as the past and present realities in which they exist.

Works combining elements of myth and materiality include Composition (1932) by pioneering abstract artist Joaquín Torres-García (Uruguayan, 1879-1949), known for his theory of Constructive Universalism, which is based on the idea that everyday symbols could be understood by all. His paintings feature a grid-like composition filled with pictographs drawn from ancient and modern cultures. Moreover, works presented in the exhibition are united by the experimental and innovative use of materials as seen in David Alfaro Siqueiros’s application of pyroxilin automotive lacquer, Alfredo Ramos Martinez’s paintings on newsprint, Carlos Cruz-Diez’s optical paintings striped with plastic slats, and Mathias Goeritz’s golden nails.

To view the full exhibition brochure, click here (for Spanish click here).

This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Dody Waugh, Anne and Houston Harte, and Jacquelyn Klein-Brown.

For more information about this exhibition visit our blog at


Related Programming


Family Resource Center Installation
Trapping the Moon
February 20 – May 26
The new bilingual installation of the Family Resource Center explores the myths and stories — both cultural and personal — threaded through the exhibition Myth and Materiality, inviting visitors to tell their own stories and to trace their travels or family history on an interactive map already "loaded" with the artists' geographic starting points and places of practice. A dream decoder helps unlock the symbols and imagery of myth and Surrealism, and a hands-on Mural de materiales allows visitors to experience the touch and textures of the materials used by artists in the exhibition.

Family Resource Center


Catalyst Quartet
Tuesday, February 19, 7:30 pm
The Catalyst Quartet will perform works by Latin-American composers active in the 20th century to complement the SBMA exhibition Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990, including Tenebrae by Golijov, Leyendas, Canciones Cubanas American by Gabriella Lena Frank, Metro Chabacano by Javier Alvarez, and String Quartet No. 2 by Ginastera.

Mary Craig Auditorium
$15 SBMA Members/$19 Non-Members


David Alfaro Siqueiros, The Hill of the Dead, 1944. Duco (pyroxilin) on board. SBMA, Gift of Mrs. MacKinley Helm.

¡Viva la Cerámica!: Ceramics from Latin America
Ceramic Workshop
Wednesdays, February 20 – April 24, 2013 (10 weeks)
6 – 9 pm
This workshop introduces participants to the basic techniques and rich traditions of ceramic art and pottery within the vibrant Latin American culture. Students explore both functional and decorative ware, while experimenting with various hand-building, wheel-throwing, surface-decorating, and glazing techniques. Course includes small group instruction, all materials needed (clay, tools, glazes), all firings, and a private docent-led tour of Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990 at the Museum.

Ridley-Tree Education Center
$400 SBMA Members/$485 Non-Members


Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie No. 352, 1967. Cardboard, casein, and cellulose acetate inserts mounted on wood. Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Gift of the ARCO Collection.

Disturbing the Dreams of the Exploiters
The Meanings of Abstraction in Latin American Modern Art

Sunday, February 24, 2 pm
Lecture by Patrick Frank

Focusing on works and artists in the SBMA collection, author and Latin American scholar Patrick Frank considers ways in which art in Latin America challenges the meanings of abstraction in Europe and the United States.

Presented in conjunction with Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990, on view February 16 – May 26.

Mary Craig Auditorium
Free for SBMA Members/$10 Non-Members/$6 Senior Non-Members



Family 1st Thursday
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Bring the whole family and enjoy 1st Thursday together in SBMA's Family Resource Center located across from the Museum Café on the Lower Level. Museum Teaching Artists will assist families in creating special exhibition-based art projects. Afterwards, enjoy selected galleries until 8pm.

March 7
Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990
Newsprint Paintings
Draw figures and architectural elements from Ramos Martinez's scenes of everyday life in Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s. Use charcoal on newspaper sheets, then add layers of luminous color with gouache.

Thursday, May 2
Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990
Watercolor Still-life

Inspired by the still-life details in Diego Riviera’s works, paint from displays of calla lilies, roses, and bundles of wood in watercolor on mid-tone paper.


Spring ArtVenture Camps
Monday – Friday, March 25 – 29, 9 am – 3 pm

Viva Art! Myths & Magic from Latin America
Ages 5 – 12
Students explore a variety of materials by becoming photographers, painters, sculptors, and printmakers as they journey through the Myth and Materiality exhibition and discover the deep history and visual storytelling of artists such as Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, Alfredo Ramos Martinez, and more.
$215 SBMA Members/$250 Non-Members

Viva La Ceramica! Ceramics from Latin America
Ages 7 – 12
This week-long camp, inspired by the Myth and Materiality exhibition, introduces students to the basic techniques and rich traditions of ceramic art and pottery within the vibrant Latin American culture. Young artists explore both functional and decorative ware and experiment with various hand-building, wheel-throwing, surface-decorating, and glazing techniques.
$300 SBMA Members/$350 Non-Members

Location: Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House, 1600 Santa Barbara Street
To register, visit or contact Rachael Krieps at 884.6441 or


Sabor Latino
Friday, April 12, 2013, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Sabor Latino will feature music and performance as well as fabulous flowers, food and drink all inspired by the exhibition Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990. Afro-Cuban jazz with Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca on the Museum's front terrace, cross cultural cocktail tasting including cachasa from Brazil, rum from Cuba, tequila from Mexico and pisco from Chile and Peru, Cultural cross pollenization – a pairing of art with artful arrangements by the Garden Club of Santa Barbara, and an interactive loteria gallery game will give guests a taste of Latin American art and culture to truly savor.

This event is a collaboration with The Garden Club of Santa Barbara.

$25 SBMA Members / $25 The Garden Club of Santa Barbara Members* / $40 Non-Members
*The Garden Club of Santa Barbara Members must purchase their tickets by phone by calling 884-6414
Includes hors d'oeuvres, wines, and signature cocktails



Studio Sunday on the Front Steps
1:30 – 4:30 pm
Visitors of all ages are welcome to participate in this hands-on workshop with SBMA Teaching Artists on the Museum’s front steps. Each month explore a different medium, including clay, metal, ink, wood, photography, and paper, and gain inspiration from works of art in the Museum’s permanent collection or special exhibitions. In the event of inclement weather, activities will be moved inside to the Museum’s Family Resource Center

All participants receive a Free Family Pass to the Museum.
Front Steps of the Museum

Acrylic Paint
Joaquín Torres-Garcia's Composition
Sunday, April 14
Paint personal symbols in a grid format inspired by the forms and shapes of ancient Egyptian pyramids, Gothic cathedrals, and Incan art inspired by Torres-Garcia's Composition.

Sunday, May 12
Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990
Abstract Portraits

Layer brightly colored forms inspired by the natural world and ancient Mexican architecture to create a portrait after Gunther Gerszo's Two Personages.


Feliciano Bejar, My Lover Has Gone Down to His Orchard (A su herto hubo de bajar mi amado), 1964. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Gift of Ruth Watkins Ackerman from the Collection of Harold and Fannie Watkins.

Adult Studio Class
A Painted Journal from Latin America
Saturday, May 18, 9 am – 3 pm
The Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection, 1930-1990 exhibition (on view at SBMA when this class is offered) serves as the inspiration for our full-day workshop. Paint under the influence of artists from Mexico, Cuba, and South America, artwork that ranges from strong, bold, and linear to loose, sketchy, and organic. Improvise with color and contour lines, repeated motifs, geometric abstractions, loose, drippy watercolor sketches, and high-contrast graphic designs. Learn to approach quick studies (at least four) with spontaneity and confidence and push through creative limitations by creating a journal. Don't be surprised if your experiments evolve into some of your most satisfying paintings and drawings!

Ridley-Tree Education Center


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