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Giulio V. Blanc papers, 1920-1995

Giulio V. Blanc papers, 1920-1995

Blanc, Giulio V., 1955-1995

Art historian

Collection Information

Size: 11.0 linear ft. (on 11 microfilm reels)

Summary: Papers compiled by Blanc concerning Cuban, Cuban-American, and Latin American art and artists dating from 1920 to 1995.

Biographical/Historical Note

Art historian; Miami, Fla.; b. 1955; d. 1995. Specialized in Cuban and Latin American art. Blanc was born in Havana and came to the United States in 1960. He was educated at Harvard College, the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, and the City University of New York. Blanc was a prolific writer of articles and catalog essays, a leading authority on Cuban art, and a significant link between Cuban and Cuban-American artists and American galleries and museums. He organized significant exhibitions including "The Miami Generation" (1983) and "Amelia Pelaez: A Retrospective" (1988) for the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami, and co-curated "Wifredo Lam and His Contemporaries" (1991) at the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York. He also served on the editorial board for the magazine "ArtNexus".

Provenance

Donated 1998 by Margherita Blanc, sister of Giulio V. Blanc.

A Finding Aid to the Giulio V. Blanc Papers,
1920-1995
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.blangiul
Finding aid prepared by Rosa M. Fernández
Scope and Content Note
The Giulio V. Blanc papers measure approximately 11 linear feet and date from 1920 to 1995. Compiled by Blanc since the beginning of his curatorial, writing, and research career in the 1980s, the papers consist primarily of artist files on Cuban, Cuban-American, and Latin American artists (1920-1995 and undated). Also found is biographical information (1994-1995), interviews by Blanc (1984-1987, 1994) and miscellaneous letters from artists and friends (1983-1995 and undated).
The first series, Biographical Files, 1994-1995 includes information about Blanc's career. Series 2: Miscellaneous Letters, 1983-1995, undated, consists of letters from artists and friends on various topics. Series 3: Artist Files, 1920-1995, undated, represents the bulk of the collection (approximately 300 artists in all, 6 linear feet), and contain materials either collected by Blanc or received by Blanc from the artists themselves. These consist of biographical material about the artist, usually two or three paragraphs written by Blanc, scattered resumes and copies of fellowship applications. Also found are newspaper clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and letters or correspondence between Blanc and the artists. Of special interest in this series are numerous taped interviews with celebrated Cuban artists and art historians such as José Gómez Sícre, founder and first director of the Art Museum of the Americas, Organization of American States. Gómez-Sícre describes his early career and involvement with acquisitions for the museum's permanent collection as well as his working relationship with Alfred H. Barr, first director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Gómez-Sícre's notable book,
Pintura Cubana de Hoy,
published in Havana in 1944 is included in the files.
Elena Peláez de Medero, another interviewee, discusses her sister, Cuban painter Amelia Peláez (1896-1968). Blanc interviewed Elena Peláez in Miami for his 1988 exhibition
Amelia Peláez: A Retrospective.
The Peláez file includes Blanc's correspondence with her as well as copies of rare 1930s and 1940s exhibition catalogs from Amelia Peláez's early career. Among the catalogs is a copy of
Modern Cuban Painters
from the 1944 exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Also found are rare French, German and Spanish newspaper clippings on Peláez dating back to the 1920s. Of interest is a copy of Amado Blanco's 1937 poetry book,
Poema desesperado.
Published in Havana, the book is dedicated to the memory of Federico García Lorca and includes illustrations by Peláez.
Another prominent artist whom Blanc interviewed was Enrique Riverón (b. 1901) leader of the Cuban
vanguardia.
He was a member of
El Grupo de Montparnasse,
a talented group of painters and writers living in the southern district of Paris in the late 1920s, an area noted for its boisterous after-hour activities. The interview was published in the
Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts
in 1997. Also found in the papers are illustrated letters and greeting cards addressed to Blanc and his parents, Baron Lodovico Blanc and María V. Blanc.
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1977-1995, undated, consists primarily of material Blanc compiled for exhibitions he curated. Found here are letters from museum directors, artists and colleagues, drafts and finished essays for exhibition catalogs, and printed material such as newspaper clippings of art reviews. This series also includes files on exhibitions Blanc did not curate.
Series 5: Subject Files, 1933-1995, undated, are files relating to Cuban art, culture, and society, the Cuban revolution, book projects, Biennials in Havana and São Paulo, the 1988 controversy surrounding the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture (Miami, FL) and other topics. Found are letters, drafts of writings, notes, printed material such as newspaper clippings and magazine articles, press releases, and exhibition announcements.
Particularly extensive is the documentation about the 1980s conflict at the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture. In April 1988, a fund-raising auction at the 24-year-old 'little Havana' institution resulted in heated disputes that escalated to violence. The works auctioned were by Cuban artists still living on the island. Many in Miami's Cuban community considered these artists to be supporters of the Communist regime and were outraged. One of the disputed works purchased the night of the auction, a drawing by Manuel Mendive, was taken across the street by its successful bidder and burned. In addition, the museum building was damaged by a pipe bomb shortly after the sale. In the National Public Radio news story (available in Blanc's papers on audio cassette) Helen Kohen, critic for the
Miami Herald
commented, "We're not talking about paintings. We're talking about `my brother's in jail'. That's what we're talking about." The situation intensified quickly; transcending local politics and involving the Treasury and Justice Departments, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses. Ramón Cernuda, the museum vice-president who organized the auction also had his personal collection of Cuban art impounded by the FBI. A second bombing took place in 1989 to protest an exhibition of Cuban artists who came to the U. S. during the early 1980s Mariel boatlift.
The seriousness of the conflicts in the Miami museum prompted the Museum of Modern Art in New York to withdraw an offer to lend three paintings to the Cuban museum for the 1988 exhibition
Amelia Peláez: A Retrospective
scheduled to open later that year. Curated by Giulio Blanc, it was the first U.S. retrospective of this important Cuban artist and the exhibition helped situate her work. The Cuban Museum of Art in Daytona Beach, an institution that helped start the Miami museum, also withdrew an offer to lend "Amelias". The result was an exhibition devoid of works owned by the Museum of Modern Art, important paintings created after 1963, the year President Kennedy imposed economic sanctions on Cuba.
To publicize the Peláez exhibition and boost attendance, the museum placed a public invitation in the Spanish section of the
Miami Herald.
The half page ad, also found in the Blanc papers, lists more than 100 intellectuals and professionals who supported the exhibition. Blanc stated in a letter to the
Miami Herald, "
It is horrifying to think there are those in Miami who would burn a painting for the sake of politics. This was the same reasoning utilized by Joseph Goebbels when he made bonfires of books and paintings by anti-Nazi and `degenerate' artists and writers in 1930s Germany... One can only pity the ignorance of those who play into the hands of the Castro regime by resorting to uncivilized tactics that can only hurt the image of the Cuban-exile community and of Miami in general."
The files concerning the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture contain exhibition announcements, copies of court orders, press releases and correspondence between Blanc and the Museum of Modern Art in New York regarding the museum and the Peláez exhibition. Also included are a great number of newspaper articles printed in two of Miami's major newspapers, the
Miami Herald
and
El Nuevo Herald
which covered the story until it was resolved in the early 1990s. Offering additional information on the controversy are a number of letters addressed to either Blanc or his parents from artists and friends expressing either discontent with the museum's state of affairs or gratitude for the Blanc's financial support during the museum's reconstruction. These provide remarkable insight into a relatively heterogeneous Cuban community.
Series 6: Sound Recordings, 1992, 1994 consists of two untranscribed audio cassette tapes. One is of the 1992 College Art Association's session:
Artistic Voices of Latin America: The Aesthetics of Anti-Colonialism
held in Chicago, Illinois in which Giulio V. Blanc was a panelist. The other is a rare 1994 interview conducted by Blanc with poet-priest Monseñor Angel Gaztelu, a friend of many Cuban writers and artists, and who presided over Peláez's funeral service in 1968.
The last series, Series 7: Photographs, 1981-1993, undated, includes black and whiteportraits of artists, group shots of Blanc with "Miami Generation" artists María Brito, Pablo Cano, María Martínez-Cañas, Carlos Macía, Arturo Rodríguez, and César Trasobares, and photos of other artists.
Biographical Note
Independent curator, critic, art historian and consultant Giulio V. Blanc (1955-1995) specialized in Cuban and Latin American art history and in his lifetime collected a wealth of material on the subject. Through his numerous exhibitions and keen articles appearing in national and international art journals, Blanc became a leading authority on Latin American art and successfully established himself as a link between Cuban and Cuban-American artists and US galleries and museums.
The Miami Generation
(1983) and
Amelia Peláez: A Retrospective
(1988) are two significant exhibitions Blanc curated for Miami's Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in addition to the celebrated
Wifredo Lam and His Contemporaries, 1938-1952
(1992) for New York's Studio Museum in Harlem. Giulio V. Blanc was among the key figures that catapulted Latin American art onto the mainstream in the early 1980s.
Giulio V. Blanc was born in Havana in 1955 to Baron Lodovico Blanc and María V. Blanc. The Blanc name hails from Italy and the title of Baron was awarded to Alberto Blanc, Lodovico Blanc's grandfather, while he was Secretary of State in 1873 under Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. As young advocates of Cuban culture, the Blanc's collected a number of paintings by Cuban artists but were forced to leave behind the works of Cuban masters such as Carlos Enríquez, Victor Manuel, René Portocarrero, Fidelio Ponce and others to facilitate an uncomplicated exodus from the country during the revolution. Lodovico and María were in their thirties and Giulio was five years old when the family settled in Miami.
Giulio Blanc completed his undergraduate education at Harvard and proceeded to Brown University and the Institute of Fine Arts in New York for graduate work (1979-1980). During his career, he served as an independent curator and consultant to The Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture (Miami), The Metropolitan Museum (Miami), and The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (New York) among others. He also lectured on Latin American art history at the Art Museum of the Americas, OAS (Organization of American States), Washington, DC, The University of Miami, and El Museo Nacional de Arte in La Paz, Bolivia. In addition, he worked as a consultant in the Latin American Paintings Department at Sotheby's auction house in New York and served on the editorial board of the magazine
Art Nexus.
Blanc was pursuing a doctoral degree in art history at the City University of New York before his premature death in 1995 at the age of thirty-nine.
1955
Born November 1 in Havana, Cuba to Baron Lodovico and Baroness María V. Blanc, young collectors of Cuban art. The title of Baron was awarded to Alberto Blanc, Lodovico Blanc's grandfather, in 1873 while Alberto was Secretary of State under Victor Emmanuel II of Italy.
1960
The Blanc family migrates to the United States because of the escalating revolution. Lodovico and Maria V. Blanc are in their thirties when they flee the island. The works of Cuban painters such as Carlos Enríquez, Victor Manuel, René Portocarrero, Fidelio Ponce and others were left behind to facilitate an uncomplicated exodus.
1976
Giulio V. Blanc serves as research assistant for one year at the Tozzer Library, Peabody Museum, Harvard University.
1977
Graduates cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. in Archeology.
1979
Graduates from Brown University with a M.A. in Archeology. Was a research assistant until 1980 at the Gallery of the Center for Inter-American Relations, New York city.
1980
Receives a certificate in Museum Studies from the Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University. Curates
Emilio Sánchez: Lithographs
which opens at the Pagoda, Ransom-Everglades School, Coconut Grove, Florida. Co-curates
Cuba in the Nineteenth Century
for Miami's Miami-Dade Public Library.
1981
Joins the Latin American Paintings Department, Sotheby's Auction House, New York and serves for two years.
1982
Co-curates
Young Hispanics, USA
which opens at the Lehigh University Museum, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and curates
Ten Out of Cuba
for INTAR Latin American Gallery in New York.
1983
Curates
Cuban Fantasies
at the Kouros Gallery in New York and
Pablo Cano en Paris
for the 4 Place de Saussaies in Paris, France. Also curates
The Miami Generation: Nine Cuban-American Artists
for the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami and the Meridian House in Washington, DC.
1984
Serves as independent curator and consultant to Miami's Metropolitan Museum and Art Center and The Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture; The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art in New York and other institutions. Lectures at the Art Museum of the Americas (Organization of American States) in Washington, DC; The University of Miami; The Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture (Miami); The Center for the Fine Arts (Miami); Rockland Center for the Arts (West Nyack, NY); and the National Museum of Art, La Paz, Bolivia. Curates
Young Collector's of Latin American Art
which opened at Miami's Metropolitan Museum and Art Center.
1985
Curates
Dancing Faces: An Exhibition of Mexican Masks
for the Metropolitan Museum and Art Center in Miami and
Nuevas Vistas: Latin American Paintings
which opens at the Wistariahurst, Holyoke, Massachusetts. Curates
Architecture in Cuban Painting,
for the Miami Dade Public Library.
1986
Receives and M.A. in Art History at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. Curates
Carlos Enríquez
for the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture, Miami, Florida and
Into the Mainstream: Ten Latin American Artists Working in New York
for the Jersey City Museum in Jersey City, New Jersey.
1987
The exhibition
Aurelia Muñoz: Selections,
curated by Blanc, opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Miami, Florida. Serves as juror for
Expresiones Hispanas: Coors National Hispanic Art Exhibition,
Denver, Colorado. Curates
Visions of Self: The American Latin Artist
for the Miami-Dade Community College gallery.
1988
Receives a grant from the NY State Council on the Arts for research on Cuban artist Wifredo Lam for the exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Enrolls in the art history Ph.D. program at the City University Graduate Center, New York city. First bombing of the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture in Miami takes place. Blanc's
Amelia Peláez: A Retrospective
successfully opens at the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture despite much controversy.
1989
Curates
Urgent Dream: New Work by Mario Bencomo
at the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MoCHA), New York. Second bombing of the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture, Miami FL.
1990
New York correspondent for
Arte en Colombia,
Bogota. Serves as adjunct lecturer at Queens College (CUNY) for the Fall semester. Curates the exhibition,
The Post-Miami Generation
for the Inter-American Gallery in Miami, Florida. Co-curates
Figurative Perspectives: Six Artists of Latin American Background
for the Rockland Center for the Arts, West Nyack, NY.
1991
Visiting scholar at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Writes a small play,
Tía Carmela: A Cuban Tragicomedy,
illustrated by Cuban artist and friend Pablo Cano.
1995
Dies at the age of forty of AIDS related complications.
Arrangement
The Giulio V. Blanc papers are arranged into seven series primarily according to type of material. Within each series, materials are arranged chronologically, except for Artist Files and Subject Files which are arranged alphabetically by either name or subject.
Series 1: Biographical Files, 1994-1995, undated (box 1; 3 folders)
Series 2: Miscellaneous Letters, 1983-1995, undated (box 1; 3 folders)
Series 3: Artist Files, 1920-1995, undated(boxes 1-8; 6 linear ft.)
Series 4: Exhibition Files, 1977-1995, undated (box 8; 1 linear foot)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1933-1995, undated (boxes 8-12; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 6: Untranscribed Sound Recordings, 1992-1994 (box 12; 2 folders)
Series 7: Photographs, 1981, 1993, undated (box 12; 2 folders)
Provenance
Donated 1998 by Margherita Blanc, sister of Giulio V. Blanc.
Processing Information
Processing of the collection was completed by Rosa M. Fernández at the Archives of American Art, Washington, DC, June 26, 1999. The finding aid was revised in October 2001 prior to EAD conversion.

Additional Forms Available

Microfilm reels 5476-5487 available for use at Archives of American Art offices and through interlibrary loan. A duplicate set was also donated to the CUNY Graduate Center Library, 365 5th Ave., New York, NY, at the request of Margherita Blanc.

How to Cite This Collection

Giulio V. Blanc papers, 1920-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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