Latin American Photography at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center

The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents Beyond Here: The Judy and Sidney Zuber Collection of Latin American Photography, an exhibition highlighting selections from the promised gift of the Judy and Sidney Zuber Collection of Latin American Photography. On view from August 9, 2023–January 28, 2024, the exhibition celebrates influential photographers from Central and South America, surveying a remarkable period of industrial, artistic, and political revolutions that occurred across the Americas in the twentieth century.

This major gift of Latin American photography is accompanied by the establishment of the Zuber Family Art Fund, which will enable the Cantor to continue to grow its collection of Latin American photography.

“We are so honored to receive and exhibit the incredible work from Judy and Sidney Zuber, which helps further the Cantor’s mission to diversify its collection of over 40,000 works by broadening its scope in terms of both region and material,” Cantor Arts Center Director Veronica Roberts said. “Accompanied by the generous contribution of the Zuber Family Art Fund, this promised gift will serve as a catalyst for future research, exhibitions, and scholarship on Latin American photography and will help expand our visitors’ familiarity with the richness of historic and contemporary photographic traditions in South and Central America.”

Beyond Here—and the Zuber Collection more broadly, which includes 76 photographs—explores themes of cultural tradition, artistic innovation, and social, political, and economic change through work by significant photographers from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, in addition to occasional expats and visitors from abroad. Both the exhibition and the promised gift survey twentieth-century photographic traditions in social documentation, studio photography, photojournalism, modernism, and more contemporary experimentations with process and narrative structure.

“The work in the Zuber Collection serves as an invaluable example of art’s capacity to examine complex histories, and Beyond Here is just the beginning,” Assistant Curator of Photography and New Media Maggie Dethloff said. “In the twentieth century, economic development, political revolution, and social, cultural, and artistic movements, among other forces of change, created circumstances ripe with new possibilities for self-determination across Latin America. This exhibition surveys how the showcased artists have engaged with and helped shape the national histories and identities in the countries in which they worked in the wake of such changes.” 

What’s on View

The works in Beyond Here reflect each country’s unique history as well as themes that resonate across national boundaries: political revolution and civil unrest, the growth and decline of cities, Indigenous and rural traditions, and the ways these threads are woven together to shape ideas of modern national and personal identity. Some of the works on view serve as historical documents or cultural records––like Hugo Brehme’s portrait of the Mexican Revolution leader Emiliano Zapata, his brother, and their wives, Josefa Espejo Sánchez (also called “La Generala”) and Matilde Vázquez Vázquez; Sandra Eleta’s depictions of the traditions and livelihoods of her fellow residents in Portobelo, a small city on the coast of Panama, exemplified by Putulungo, el pulpero (Putulungo, the Octopus Man) (1979); Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s photograph of a mill laborer on strike who was assassinated; or Cristina Kahlo’s photographs of Puebla’s Carnaval de Huejotzingo, a festival that fuses Indigenous and colonial cultural traditions. Others incorporate surrealism and modernist aesthetics, or take a more interpretive approach using the language of abstraction, such as Sin título, Los desaparecidos (Untitled, The Disappeared) (1998) by Milagros de la Torre, which via its depiction of tattered clothes on the ground, refers to those who have been “disappeared”—secretly arrested or abducted, often for political reasons, and presumably tortured and murdered. 

By surveying the national histories reflected in the Zuber Collection, Beyond Here posits these works not as static artifacts, but as dynamic visualizations of breathing histories that have long informed the lives and cultures of Latin America. The exhibition title is drawn from the Spanish phrase “más allá”—from a popular song recorded by the Mexican musical trio Los Tres Diamantes in 1961—that variously means beyond here in terms of physical distance, beyond what has just been said, or the afterlife. This multiplicity of meaning gestures to the sense of potentiality seen in these photographs. 

Cristina Kahlo (b. Mexico, 1960). Fumador de Huejotzingo, Carnaval de Huejotzingo, Puebla, 2011. Gelatin silver print.
Cristina Kahlo (b. Mexico, 1960). Fumador de Huejotzingo, Carnaval de Huejotzingo, Puebla, 2011. Gelatin silver print. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Promised gift from the Judy and Sidney Zuber Collection of Latin American Photography. Courtesy of the artist. © Cristina Kahlo

ABOUT THE JUDY AND SIDNEY ZUBER COLLECTION

The Judy and Sidney Zuber Collection of Latin American Photography is a promised gift to the Cantor Arts Center and will form the foundation of a growing collection of Latin American photography. The Zuber Collection features more than three dozen influential photographers from more than ten countries, working across a range of photographic traditions.

“We are so pleased to make this promised gift to the Cantor Arts Center, as we are confident that the museum’s stellar team is best suited to excavating those dormant cultural histories and personal narratives embodied in our collection of Latin American photography through rigorous scholarship and exhibitions such as Beyond Here,” Judy Zuber said. “As a Stanford family, we have observed first hand how the Cantor’s unique position as an encyclopedic museum at a renowned teaching institution is further buoyed by the University’s vast archives and resources which will undoubtedly promote continued study, both on campus and beyond.”

ABOUT THE CANTOR ARTS CENTER

Serving the Stanford campus, the Bay Area community, and visitors from around the world, the Cantor Arts Center provides an outstanding cultural experience for visitors of all ages. Founded when the university opened in 1891, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor.

The Cantor’s collection spans 5,000 years and includes more than 41,000 works of art from around the globe. The Cantor is an established resource for teaching and research on campus.

Free admission, tours, lectures, and family activities make the Cantor one of the most visited university art museums in the country.

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