0220 Looking into the Future: Visiting Artists’ Studios in 1880s Buenos Aires

  • Laurens Dhaenens (Author)
    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

    Laurens Dhaenens is a postdoctoral research fellow of the Flanders Research Foundation – FWO at the University of Leuven. His research project focuses on art criticism, exhibition politics and cultural diplomacy at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century. He specializes in art from South America. His work has been published in journals, including Image and Narrative, Caiana. Revista de Historia del Arte y Cultura Visual del Centro Argentino de Investigadores de Arte (CAIA), and Revue Histoire de l’art. He is the editor of Art from Latin America, Modern and Contemporary (Lannoo, 2015) and co-editor of Kunstkritiek, Standpunten uit België en Nederland in een internationaal perspectief (1985–2010) (LannooCampus 2010).

Identifiers (Article)


During the 1880s, Buenos Aires witnessed a boost in the project of founding a national art scene. Interestingly, the founding of such a scene implied, in the first place, the creation of a field of art criticism. Due to the lack of official institutes and public support for the arts, the process of imagining and creating a national art took place both on paper and in the studio. As a result, one specific topos that emerges in this period is the visit to the artist’s studio. This new discursive art space is at first sight small and insignificant, yet as the present study shows, its discovery in art criticism was crucial for the elaboration of a new myth, i.e., that of a national art production to come, observable in its actual birth place. The concept of "the visit to the great artist" had a different meaning in Buenos Aires than, for instance, in Paris. Most of the painters or sculptors were not yet viewed as "great artists". They were precursors or national masters to be. The main focus of this article addresses the question of what this means for the representation of artistic practices and what it tells us about the dynamic of the early art scene.


Art Criticism, Studio Studies, Argentina, Nineteenth Century Art