Ana María Reyes, "The Politics of Taste: Beatriz González and Cold War Aesthetics" (Duke UP, 2019)

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In The Politics of Taste: Beatriz González and Cold War Aesthetics (Duke University Press, 2019), Ana María Reyes examines the ways Colombian artist Beatriz González and Argentine-born art critic Marta Traba railed against international forms of modernism and promoted low brow or even provincial forms of art in the period of the Colombian National Front’s coalition government (1958-1974). In doing so, Reyes situates art in a pivotal moment in Colombian history where efforts to end political violence through compromise and power-sharing also led to the ushering of modernizing projects promoted initially under President Alberto Lleras Camargo. Reyes shows that art became under the purview of elites seeking to project Colombia as a modern, internationalist nation. González, on the other hand, increasingly questioned and challenged elite efforts to present modernism as the epitome of high art and culture in Colombia. In doing so, Reyes wholeheartedly adopted her role as a provocateur as a way to resist U.S. cultural interference and to preserve the marginal voices so often derided by urban elites in Bogotá. Through an examination of art, Reyes offers a refreshing perspective on the ways taste became politicized in mid-twentieth century Colombia.

Sharika Crawford is an associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy.

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