Curator plugging Latin American art into the global artworld
Commanding MAC Niteroi, his spaceshiplike museum across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, León de la Barra has programmed a stream of eye-catching shows, not least a weekly takeover by gold-cloaked aliens (aka a performance work by Argentinian artist Eduardo Navarro). The curator has long been regarded as a conduit to the South American art scene – he is the Guggenheim’s curator-at-large for Latin America and is courted for his inside knowledge by third parties (including RollsRoyce, who tapped him up to nominate an artist for their ‘Muse’ commissioning programme). This year he’s been focusing on Central American and Caribbean art: notably by cofounding, from the ashes of the Davidoff Art Initiative, the nonprofit Caribbean Art Initiative to support artistic exchanges and cultural programmes in the region. In September, meanwhile, Federico Herrera covered the interior walls of León de la Barra’s Oscar Niemeyer-designed institution with his colourful murals.