The Documentary Films of José Gómez Sicre and the Pan American Union Visual Arts Department

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Visual Arts Department of the Pan American Union, headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., produced nearly fifty 16mm documentary short films on topics ranging from contemporary art to heritage sites and OAS member countries. This article focuses on a cluster of three titles about Peru directed by curator and critic José Gómez Sicre between approximately 1964 and 1968. Produced with funding from an international affiliate of Esso Standard Oil, the films were shot on location and demonstrate careful attention to the contexts of art production within an emerging cultural policy framework that cast art and heritage as engines of regional cultural development. The films further assert that the antiquities and modern art markets might be synchronized to become a generational taste formation, insofar as they identify classes of affordable artifacts that were finding their way to collectors relatively recently, and which had also inspired the work of postwar Peruvian artists. As an ensemble, the films reveal unexplored interactions between contemporary art movements, the development of heritage districts and site museums, and emergent cultural policies that continue to impact hemispheric American locations.

Content for this article is available at MIT Press. It is available as: No Access/Subscription Only . Click here for more information.