The “X” in Latinx

The Phillips is hosting a book club about Latinx Art by Arlene Dávila on January 21. Fabiola R. Delgado (she/her), a Venezuelan Human Rights Lawyer turned independent curator, creative consultant, and programs specialist, who will be leading the discussion, shares some insights about the book.

Latinx Art

When first introduced to the book Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics by cultural anthropologist and NYU Professor Arlene Dávila, I was eager to know how she defined the term “Latinx” and most specifically the concept of “Latinx art.” While the US American neologism “Latinx” rose in the mid 2000s as a gender-inclusive noun (replacing the binary and genderized Castilian grammatic Latino/Latina), the multivarious nature of what historically has been called a single cultural/ethnic group: Hispanics/Latinos, and the different experiences of those groups in the United States, have prevented the term from reaching its collective identity status outside of academia and cultural influencer circles. In these spaces, Latinx refers to a person of Latin American descent based in the USA (whether immigrant, first, or higher generations), separate from Latin Americans. This is the main distinction to consider when reading the book, because it anchors the author’s perspective through her introduced concept of “national privilege” (a direct connection to Latin American territory). Equally important is the need to read this through a multifocal lens: it’s not about setting one group against another, but recognizing and accusing the race and class disparities evidently displayed in the art world, that position white work as the natural category, and anything other than white as an accessory.

The issue of the art market (amusingly described as the largest informal economy for its lack of transparency and monitoring) favoring art that’s identifiable within the canon of art history, is raised along the claims by some that Latinx art has no specific nationality, geographic location, or visual recognizable characteristics; and though I accept there’s no typical look to what Latinx art is, I press on the first two claims and ask: Is Latinx art not made in America? Is it not American? These positions raise conflicting views of a desire for an art market that’s “separate but equal” or fully integrated. I cannot provide a definite answer, but until we refute the normalization of “American” as white, and contest the “American Art” and “Contemporary Art” identifiers (I would add “Old Masters” to the list), we’ll continue to contemplate and theorize exchanges that only offer initial arguments to dismantle the racist status-quo of the global art market, and instead can motivate the otherization of parallel markets: Black Art, Indigenous Art, Asian Art, Caribbean Art, Latin American Art, and maybe eventually Latinx Art.

The author is clear when she states that Latinx art is a culture making project, rather than a fixed identity, acknowledging the work of artists excluded from both US American and Latin American art history, and reminding us of the permanent state of flux in which Latinx people are perceived (“ni de aquí ni de allá”) in tandem with the riddling case of marketable ethnicity. For this reason, many researchers that explore the art world (or worlds?), art education, image, and identity, including Dávila, refer back to the words of ethnologist Fred Myers: “To imagine conditions of cultural heterogeneity, rather than those of consensus, as the common situation of cultural interpretation.” It is difficult to find any conclusive statement, but I invite readers to continue questioning what’s considered the norm and push for policy changes that will ultimately resound in the collective culture.

In sum, “Identity” is in. “Identifiers,” still a work in progress.


Fabiola R. Delgado (she/her) ( pursues justice through art and cultural practice, striving for thought-provoking projects that bring forward different perspectives and encourage intergenerational creative learning, after her activism in Venezuela proved too dangerous, forcing her to move to the United States where she currently seeks political asylum. Fabiola has worked with various Smithsonian Institution museums including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Museum of Asian Art, and the National Museum of American History, the Embassy of Spain, Times Square Arts, Washington Project for the Arts, Latela Curatorial, No Kings Collective, the Center for Book Arts NYC, The Fundred Project along MacArthur Fellow Mel Chin, and the Obama White House.

A Bright and Bold New Century

Happy New Year and Happy Centennial Year to The Phillips Collection!

We are proud to introduce our refreshed logo―made up of bright and bold colors for a fabulous centennial year and beyond.

Our logo, created in 2014, took a cue from Duncan Phillips’s love of color, and was created from a palette drawn from collection favorites―Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81), Mark Rothko’s Orange and Red on Red (1957), El Greco’s The Repentant St. Peter (1600-1605), and Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series Panel no. 1 (1940-41).

Original logo palette inspiration

For the Centennial, we build on our lively and welcoming brand and introduce colors drawn from recent acquisitions that highlight the diversity of our growing collection. Duncan Phillips intended his collection to grow and evolve, and our refreshed palette reflects the energy and excitement of our next century.

Centennial logo variations

The refreshed logo pulls colors from:

  • Sam Gilliam, Purple Antelope Space Squeeze, 1987, Diptych: Relief, etching, aquatint and collagraph on handmade paper with embossing, hand-painting and painted collage, 41 1/2 in x 81 5/8 in., Bequest of Marion F. and Norman W. Goldin, 2017
  • Angela Bulloch, Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, 2018, Powder coated steel, Made possible with support from Susan and Dixon Butler, Nancy and Charles Clarvit, John and Gina Despres, A. Fenner Milton, Eric Richter, Harvey M. Ross, George Vradenburg and The Vradenburg Foundation
  • Poul Gernes, Untitled (stripe series with ochre as recurring color), 1965, Enamel paint on Masonite board, 16 panels; 48 x 48 in. each, Acquired in 2019 with support from the Ny Carlsberg Fondet
  • Aolar Mosely, Blocks, c. 1955, Cotton, 75 x 83 in., Museum purchase, and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2019
  • Simone Leigh, No Face (Crown Heights), 2018, Terracotta, graphite ink, salt-fired porcelain, epoxy, 20 x 8 x 8 in., Director’s Discretionary Fund, 2018
  • Gene Davis, 65-2, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 58 1/4 x 74 in., Gift of Richard E. Thompson, 2017
  • Janet Taylor Pickett, And She Was Born, 2017, Acrylic on canvas with collage, 30 x 30 in., Dreier Fund for Acquisitions, 2020

Centennial palette inspiration

Here’s to 100 years of color and 100 more years of collecting!

John Edmonds’s Engagement with the African Past, African American Present, and Collective Future

Ariana Kaye, The Phillips Collection Sherman Fairchild Fellow 2020-2021, on John Edmonds

On December 15, I had the pleasure of hearing artist John Edmonds talk about his work. In conversation with Dr. Ashley James, the two discussed how Edmonds’s work aims to show how Black people style themselves (or “self-fashion”) and his connection to both African art and to historically white and European art.

Tête d’Homme (2018) (at the Whitney Museum of American Art) and Hood II (2016) (gifted to The Phillips Collection in 2018) exemplify some of the key points that Edmonds talked about during the conversation. Both of these works are photographs. Edmonds emphasized the role that photography has had and still has in authentically or inauthentically portraying Black subjects. In the 19th century and earlier, photography was used to exploit Black people and present them as “others.” In Edmonds’s work, he seeks to reclaim objectifying photography and portrays Black subjects in empowering and true representations. 

LEFT: Pablo Picasso, Tête d’Homme, 1907, Oil on canvas, Merion, Lincoln University, Barnes Foundation; RIGHT: John Edmonds, Tête d’Homme, 2018, Archival pigment photograph, 24 × 30 in., Courtesy of the artist and Company, New York

The French Tête d’Homme, translated to English as “Head of a Man,” references the types of titles that European artists like Picasso would use to title their works, most often inspired by African masks that they collected. By using the title, Edmonds seeks to reclaim the French and art historical linguistic use of the title, and show a head of a real man who is Blackwith a work of art that connects him to his own ancestral past, in order to tell his own story about what the object he is presented with means to him.  

Edmonds also collects African masks and figurines in order to investigate where they come from and which African tribe they could possibly belong to. He usually purchases the objects from different street vendors in New York City. He is not worried about the “authenticity” of the objects, but more about what they represent, that they have all been loved by generations of families and ancestors who appreciated them and used them for different aesthetic and ceremonial purposes. 

John Edmonds, Untitled (Hood 2), 2016, Archival pigment print, 20 x 14 in., The Phillips Collection, Promised gift of Vittorio Gallo, 2018

While masks were used as forms of adornment in earlier centuries, according to Edmonds the new form of that is the hood, the sweatshirt, or the du-rag serving as a mode of selffashioning for Black people today. The hood is seen in Hood IIfrom a series of photographs he started in 2016. We cannot see the face or gender of the person, also representing the universality of the hood—it does not have a gender. Many of Edmonds’s subjects are gender non-conforming individuals, and he believes that creating a society in which these people can live their truth is essential to being modern.  

Dr. James exemplified John Edmonds’s work perfectly during the talk with her remark: “Let’s bring the Black body that caused all the conversation back into the conversation.” In Edmonds’s work, the Black body is the center of the conversation, reclaiming the Black past, present and future 

What is your vision for future Black representation? 

To hear more from John Edmonds, listen to his Conversations with Artists event at the Phillips in 2019: