August 04, 2021

Innovative New Volume is a Landmark Study in Rubens’s Influence on Colonial Latin American Art

Innovative New Volume is a Landmark Study in Rubens’s Influence on Colonial Latin American Art

The analysis of printed works in their colonial context allows for a renewed look at the significance of the “copy” as legitimate artistic practice



LOS ANGELES, CA–The work of Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) was hugely influential in colonial Latin America, where prints of the Flemish artists’ work were used to create a wide variety of reproductions and artistic objects of all manner. In this, Rubens was not alone: the European print was—for roughly three hundred years, or the entirety of the colonial period—arguably the single most important force to shape the artistic landscapes of the Spanish Americas. Paintings in churches but also sculpture, liturgical objects, ornamental reliefs, and even the very architecture of colonial cities all took shape in response to imported designs that had been sent from afar.

Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America (Getty Research Institute, $70.00) is the first comprehensive study of this transatlantic phenomenon, despite broad recognition that it was one of the most important forces to shape the artistic landscapes of the region. Copying, particularly in colonial contexts, has traditionally held negative implications that have discouraged its serious exploration. Yet analyzing the interpretation of printed sources and recontextualizing the resulting works within period discourse and their original spaces of display allow a new critical reassessment of this broad category of art produced in colonial Latin America—art that has all too easily been dismissed as derivative and thus unworthy of sustained interest and investigation.

Rubens in Repeat takes a new approach to the paradigms of artistic authorship that emerged alongside these complex creative responses, focusing on the viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It argues that the use of European prints was an essential component of the very framework in which colonial artists forged ideas about what it meant to be a creator.

Aaron M. Hyman is Assistant Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins University.

Prepublication endorsements for Rubens in Repeat:

“Both ‘logic’ and ‘copy’ are carefully examined, and finally subverted, in this extraordinary book. The extensive use of prints after works by Rubens throughout Spanish and Portuguese America from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries is a commonplace in studies of Latin American art. Delving deeply into specific examples and their variations in different geographies and institutions, Hyman both informs and expands the reader’s knowledge and understanding of the paths of creativity and reception.”—Clara Bargellini, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Rubens in Repeat is an innovative study about the mobility of objects and their reinterpretation across the vast geography of the early modern Spanish Empire. Aaron M. Hyman’s attention to buildings, cities, and viceroyalties as settings for the transformation of print into paint, stone, and other media provides a scholarly model for thinking locally and writing globally.”—Jesús Escobar, Northwestern University

“An explosive defamiliarization of the Flemish Baroque as period, geography, and mode. Hyman weaves close looking with startling archival finds to situate Rubens not so much as a transatlantic brand, but as an inflection of what exactly ‘European’ art—and so too Latin American visual culture—was in the long seventeenth century. No longer just the art historical fellow of Van Dyck, Snyders, and Jan Bruegel, here Rubens aligns with Dürer, Warhol, even Judd. But time remains fundamental: Hyman sinks us into the documents and places us before dozens of never-published objects, disabling the colonialist myth of the copy as ‘other.’ Rubens—always an artist more interesting than his art—emerges as a willful ghost, forever betwixt repetitions.”—Christopher P. Heuer, author of Into the White: The Renaissance Arctic and the End of the Image


Publication Information:

Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America
by Aaron M. Hyman

Getty Research Institute

320 pages, 7 x 10 inches, hardcover

150 color and 12 b/w illustrations

ISBN 978-1-60606-686-7

US $70.00/ £55.00


Publication Date: October 26, 2021



Sydney Lopez, Getty Publications


About Getty Publications:

Getty Publications produces award-winning titles that result from or complement the work of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute. This wide variety of books covers the fields of art, photography, archaeology, architecture, conservation, and the humanities for both the general public and specialists. Publications include illustrated works on artists and art history, exhibition catalogues, works on cultural history, research on the conservation of materials and archaeological sites, scholarly monographs, critical editions of translated works, comprehensive studies of Getty’s collections, and educational books on art to interest children of all ages.


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