Art & Art History ETDs


Maria Otero

Publication Date



This thesis will focus on several of the smaller series that make up Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín's La Edad de la Ira series, using them as examples of the main themes of this body of work. These themes include representations of oppressors and the oppressed, which is a regularly occurring opposition created throughout La Edad de la Ira. The first chapter will explore images of series consisting only of oppressors in the context of Latin America's actual history by relating it to Eduardo Galeano's famous book Open Veins of Latin America. I do so in order to explore how Guayasamín's images embody and illuminate the larger systems of inequality, such as those functioning within neo-colonial formations, that economically disadvantage the majority of Latin Americans on whose behalf he paints. In Chapter Two Las Manos series will be the site of concentration, as it is a rare series that features both oppressor and oppressed within the same series. This allows us to read it almost as a representation of the entire series, thus enabling a close reading of the visual language in order to approach Guayasamín's aesthetic and intentions with greater rigor. In this venture I will take on the criticism leveled at Guayasamín by the art critic Marta Traba, who felt modern art should not give undue attention to social themes, as did Guayasamín's work. I argue that Guayasamín's blend of modern visual elements with social commentary effectively utilizes modernist techniques to deepen his message in a way that is essentially transnational. The final chapter will switch focus to a series that depicts the oppressed, an indeterminate group that can either be quite specific or rather symbolic depending on the series. In this case the series by Guayasamín was inspired by Frantz Fanon's Les Damnés de la Terre and so deals with the victims of French colonialism in Algeria, but they can simultaneously be read as connecting the paintings to other forms of colonial or neo-colonial oppression, thus establishing important connections about the interconnectedness of international systems of oppression throughout history.""



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Barnet-Sánchez, Holly

Second Committee Member

Buick, Kirsten


Oswaldo Guayasamin, 20th century Ecuadorian art, Eduardo Galeano, Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Marta Traba, La Edad de la Ira, Indigenismo