One of the largest private collections of Chicanx and Latinx art in the world have just been acquired by the Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas announced today.
Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores Garcia have donated 5,650 works of Latinx and Chicanx art to the Blanton. The majority of the artworks will remain in Blanton’s permanent collection. However the Blanton said it will work to distribute some artworks to other U.S. museums in an effort to grow the representation of Latinx art nationwide.
For 14 years, Cárdenas directed UT’s Inter-University Program for Latino Research. For many years Garcia was a professor of sociology at UT where she sought to advance Latinx studies. In 1986, Cárdenas founded Galería Sín Fronteras in Austin, which for more than two decades was one the of city’s foundational art spaces for Latinx and Chicanx art. Cárdenas began collecting art during California’s Chicano Movement in the 1960s while he was a student activist.
Related coverage: ‘Collecting Sin Fronteras: An interview with Gilberto Cárdenas.’
“As part of a public research university, providing first-class education to more than 60,000 students, and a Hispanic Serving Institution, the Blanton plays a critical role in the educational and research work of this community,” Cárdenas and Garcia said in a statement. “We are confident that the research undertaken by the curatorial staff and the exhibitions and publications that result will represent a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge and understanding of this aspect of American art.”
“For decades, Gilberto Cárdenas has supported and championed Latino and Chicano artists, built an important collection, and consistently encouraged museums to feature Latino art,” said Museum Director Simone Wicha. “Latino culture is an essential part of U.S. culture, especially here in the Southwest, and our shared commitment to representing and amplifying Latino history and voices through art prompted me to begin this collaboration with Gilberto and Dolores.”
And thanks to a $500,000 Advancing Latinx Art in Museums grant — a new initiative supported by the Ford Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Terra Foundation for American Art — the Blanton will welcome a new associate curator of Latinx art, who will be fundamental in the research and presentation of these artworks.
The new curatorial role will also help advance Latinx studies across the UT campus by supporting faculty members, helping to train the next generation of historians of Chicano and Latino art, and developing educational and exhibition programming.
Starting next month, visitors to the Blanton will be able to see many of the artworks from the Cárdenas/Garcia Collection in two new Latino art galleries on the museum’s upper level.
“The Blanton’s new dedicated gallery spaces will ensure that these artworks, as well as Latino art more generally, have a constant, dedicated presence for museum visitors and for scholars who come from far and wide to research this landmark collection,” said Vanessa Davidson, the Blanton’s curator of Latin American art.
The inaugural exhibition in the new galleries will open in March and will feature portraits from the collection by Chicanx artists.
Below, some artworks from the Gilberto Cárdenas and Dolores Garcia Collection: