Thesis Title: Braziling: mapping Brazilian art in collections across the UK
From the post-war period to the present, UK interest in Brazilian art has shifted with political and economic allegiances and the interests of art-world brokers (Montes 2007; Fideliz 2008). Broader international acquisition policies have signalled a move from viewing art history as a geographically restricted canon (Asbury 2012) but the factors influencing decisions to acquire particular works from specific nations remain unexamined. By analyzing the acquisition of Brazilian art by public museums in the UK, I will explore the underlying factors influencing how museums and galleries shape public understanding of art from previously under-represented nations.
Using object histories, I will interrogate how shifting perceptions of Brazilian art within an established US-Western European canon (Barriendos 2013) have influenced acquisitions. Whereas interest in Brazilian art in the UK has focused on modern and contemporary art, I will cover art produced from the colonial period onwards allowing for a more complex consideration of how works from diverse time-periods form part of a history of collecting activity, given the shift of meaning objects receive throughout time (Clifford 1988). The development of an accessible database of Brazilian art held by public collections will be a longer-term outcome of the research project.