In this uniquely wide-ranging book, David Craven investigates the extraordinary impact of three Latin American revolutions on the visual arts and on cultural policy. The three great upheavals - in Mexico (1910-40), in Cuba (1959-89), and in Nicaragua (1979-90) - were defining moments in twentieth century life in the Americas. Craven discusses the structural logic of each movement's artistic project - by whom, how, and for whom artworks were produced - and assesses their legacies. In each case, he demonstrates how the consequences of the revolution reverberated in the arts and cultures far beyond national borders.
The book not only examines specific artworks originating from each revolution's attempt to deal with the challenge of "socializing the arts," but also the engagement of the working classes in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua with a tradition of the fine arts made newly accessible through social transformation. Craven considers how each revolution dealt with the pressing problem of creating a "dialogical art" - one that reconfigures the existing artistic resource rather than one that just reproduces a populist art to keep things as they were. In addition, the author charts the impact on the revolutionary processes of theories of art and education, articulated by such thinkers as John Dewey and Paulo Freire. The book provides a fascinating new view of the Latin American revolutionaries - from artists to political leaders - who defined art as a fundamental force for the transformation of society and who bequeathed new ways of thinking about the relations among art, ideology, and class, within a revolutionary process.