HomeThe Beauty of America, of its identities and territories

HomeThe Beauty of America, of its identities and territories

The Beauty of America, of its identities and territories

Beauté de l'Amérique, de ses identités, de ses territoires

Belleza de América, de sus identidades y territorios

Beleza da América, de suas identidades, dos seus territórios

Representations in the visual arts (19th to 21st centuries)

Représentations dans les arts visuels (XIXe-XXIe siècle)

Representaciones en las artes visuales (siglos XIX a XXI)

Representações nas artes visuais (Séculos XIX – XXI)

*  *  *

Published on Wednesday, December 15, 2021


Pour le prochain numéro de la revue Amerika, qui sera plus spécifiquement consacré aux arts plastiques, nous souhaitons interroger le concept de beauté, en lien avec les Amériques, à travers le rapport à l’émerveillement, à la fascination, mais aussi à la violence et à la manière dont l’art transcende l'horreur.



For the next issue of the journal Amerika, which will be dedicated specifically to the Fine Arts, we wish to question the concept of beauty, in relation to the Americas.

Since the end of the 19th century, beauty is not usually considered as a relevant value in the arts; artists tend to emphasize this last idea and the concept of the work. In the disenchanted postmodern era we live in, talking about beauty seems almost out of place, misfit, unconscious. But, as François Cheng writes, “beauty is located at the opposite of evil and on the other side of a reality that we have to face”.

The beautiful, considered by Plato as the mirror of harmony, virtue and good, associated with the eternal, purity and the divine in the Platonic and Neoplatonic conception, was long considered as the synonym of just proportions: the golden number, the divine proportion is the one that reflects the perfection, beauty and harmony of the cosmos. In the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas recalls that claritas, that is, clarity and luminosity, is also necessary for beauty, and various theorists assert that colour is at the origin of beauty. The Renaissance brings classical beauty back to the tastes of the day. In the 18th century, Edmund Burke contrasted the beautiful with the sublime, while Kant considered that the beautiful is what "universally liked without concept." During the 20th century, the time of the ready-made and the consumer society, "the new beauty can be reproduced, it is transitory and ends up expiring". Apparently, art has lost its sense of beauty, however, far from being only a superficial aestheticism, beauty is also light, a reflection of an astonishment or inner beauty.

Since the 19th century, numerous artists have managed to capture the beauty of America. From José María Velasco’s Mexican landscapes to the sublime views of North America by Albert Bierstadt, or more recently we have observed the idyllic mystical jungles of the Cuban Tomás Sánchez. The territories of America were also magnified by many artists; identities and peoples from the past: indigenous people of the Peruvian Andes by Francisco Laso, the young women of the paintings of the Chilean Pedro Lira or the Venezuelan Arturo Michelena, the guitarist of the Brazilian Almeida Junior, the Costeño of the Mexican Agustín Arrieta, the portraits of Amerindians of the Mississippi are just some examples.

The traumas experienced by the peoples of the Americas between the 19th and 21st centuries led many contemporary artists to express these sufferings or these conflictive events in an artistic form. The artist does not aim to produce something beautiful, but he can still emerge through the work. The work that witnesses and denounces the horrors of war can sometimes express the unspeakable in an aesthetic form, and this raises many questions. The beauty of horror is a rather old problem, since scenes of barbarism and massacres are not lacking in the history of painting. "The Fine Arts show superiority precisely in that they provide a beautiful description of things that, in nature, would be ugly or unpleasant," wrote Kant. In that sense, could beauty be a way to overcome horror?

We could think of the following possible areas of focus:

  • The beauty of America, source of amazement, fascination and sublime artistic creation since the 19th century.

What gaze do artists have on American landscapes, territories, and peoples? How do they express their amazement? What do your works tell us about America and its splendours? 

  • The beauty that brings us closer to harmony, virtue, good or even the divine, in the Americas.

Can beauty elevate us? Why does beauty speak to us and fascinate us? Will it be a source of good? How is this expressed in the visual arts in the Americas, from the 19th century to the present day?

  • Beauty of America and the contemporary period

Can we think that the current period of disenchantment means that the time of the beautiful is over? Will the amazement and fascination in front of the beauty of the peoples and territories of the Americas be out of purpose in the troubled times that we now live in? Will there be American artists - or who work on these issues - who will still claim beauty?

  • Beauty and suffering of the peoples of the Americas. The beauty that transcends the ugly, the art that testifies to the horrors

Can a work that expresses trauma be considered as beautiful, and to what extent does the artistic expression of a difficult experience perhaps allow it to be endured and overcome? Can the beautiful transcend the ugly, make the negative become positive, artistic creation being a place of reconstruction and rebirth?

Any other problem that corresponds to the topic may be proposed. We wish to dedicate this issue more particularly to the plastic arts (drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, engraving, muralism, modelling), but photography and cinema are not excluded.

Guidelines submission

Abstracts must be sent to lucile.magnin@univ-smb.fr and amerika@openedition.org

before February 1, 2022.

Articles must be sent before May 1, 2022, for publication in June of the same year.

Article proposals must have a maximum of 1000 characters. They can be in Spanish, French, English, Portuguese. The submission rules are listed under the heading "Calls for papers" of the Journal.

Articles can be submitted in the following languages: Spanish, French, English, Portuguese. They must have a maximum of 40,000 signs (including bibliography and footnotes). They can be accompanied with illustrations, subject to the reservation that the author has the rights of diffusion.

We also accept articles for the Mélanges, Comptes-Rendus, Entretiens and Opinions sections.

Editorial committee

  • Daniel Attala (MCF, Études hispano-américaines, Université de Lorient)
  • Françoise Bouvet (PRAG, Littérature hispano-américaine, Université Rennes 2)
  • Andrés Castro Roldán (MCF, Études hispano-américaines, Université Rennes 2)
  • Nadège Centelles (MCF, Théâtre hispanophone contemporain, Université Rennes 2)
  • Gaëlle Débeaux (MCF, Littérature Comparée, Université Rennes 2)
  • Anaïs Fabriol (MCF, Littérature hispano-américaine, Université Rennes 2)
  • Mireille Garcia (MCF, Littérature brésilienne, Université Rennes 2)
  • Audrey Giboux (MCF, Littérature comparée, Université Rennes 2)
  • Jimena Obregón Iturra (Professeure, Histoire, Université Rennes 2)
  • Charline Pluvinet (MCF, Littérature Comparée, Université Rennes 2)
  • Néstor Ponce (Professeur, Littérature et civilisation hispano-américaine, Université Rennes 2)
  • Rodolphe Robin (MCF, Études latino-américaines, Université Rennes 2)
  • Claire Sourp (MCF, Littérature hispano-américaine, Université Rennes 2)
  • Anne Teulade (Professeure, littérature comparée, Université de Rennes 2)


  • Tuesday, February 01, 2022


  • art visuel, Amérique, histoire de l'art, Amérique latine


  • Anaïs Fabriol
    courriel : cellam-amerika [at] univ-rennes2 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Anaïs Fabriol
    courriel : cellam-amerika [at] univ-rennes2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The Beauty of America, of its identities and territories », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, https://doi.org/10.58079/17wg

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