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The essayist and cultural commentator Ilan Stavans and the analytic philosopher Jorge J. E. Gracia share long-standing interests in the intersection of art and ideas. Here they take thirteen pieces of Latino art, each reproduced in color, as occasions for thematic discussions. Whether the work at the center of a particular conversation is a triptych created by the brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Andres Serrano's controversial Piss Christ, a mural by the graffiti artist BEAR_TCK, or Above All Things, a photograph by Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Stavans and Gracia's exchanges inevitably open out to literature, history, ethics, politics, religion, and visual culture more broadly. Autobiographical details pepper Stavans and Gracia's conversations, as one or the other tells what he finds meaningful in a given work. Sparkling with insight, their exchanges allow the reader to eavesdrop on two celebrated intellectuals - worldly, erudite, and unafraid to disagree - as they reflect on the pleasures of seeing.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii Thirteen 1 1. The Labyrinth of History: Einar and Jamex de la Torre, La reconquista 17 2. The Impostor's Mask: Maria Brito, Conversation 35 3. On Desecration: Andres Serrano, Piss Christ 49 4. The Death Game: Francisco Oller, El velorio 61 5. A Girl's Innocence: Marian Yampolsky, Elva 75 6. The Thereafter: Carmen Lomas Garza, Heaven and Hell 93 7. The Street as Art: BEAR_TCK, Chicano Graffiti 107 8. Desperate Escape: Jose Bedia, Siguiendo su instinto 123 9. The Horrors of War: Luis Cruz Azaceta, Slaughter 139 10. The Ambiguity of Madness: Martin Ramirez, No. 111, Untitled (Train and Tunnel) 153 11. I Laugh in Your Race! Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Skull)16712. American America: Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Above All Things18113. Twisted Tongue: Adal, La Spanglish Sandwich Bodega Bag195Thirteen Plus One 209The Artists 219Index 227

About the Author

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. He has written, edited, and translated many books, including Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.Jorge J. E. Gracia is Samuel P. Capen Chair and SUNY Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His many books include Painting Borges: Philosophy Interpreting Art Interpreting Literature, Images of Thought: Philosophical Interpretations of Carlos Estevez's Art, and Latinos in America: Philosophy and Social Identity.


"Thirteen Ways of Looking at Latino Art is extraordinary, at once global in vision and particular in approach. It teaches an enormous amount about history, art history, art (practice and theory), and metaphysics - all with tremendous rigor, ease, and playfulness. If only all intellectual works were such." - Frederick Luis Aldama, author of Why the Humanities Matter "In these freewheeling conversations, Ilan Stavans and Jorge J. E. Gracia cover key background for defining Latino art, including ethnicity, immigration, identity, assimilation, community, and language. The writers' two distinct personalities keep their discussions lively and surprising. A special contribution of this book is to highlight artists whose works the reader may not already know. The authors offer insights into the thirteen works they discuss in detail, drawing upon a myriad of art historical and literary allusions in a conversation that is often erudite but never dull." - Cynthia Freeland, author of Portraits and Persons

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