Baroque New Worlds traces the changing nature of baroque representation in Europe and the Americas across four centuries, from its seventeenth-century origins as a Catholic and monarchical aesthetic and ideology to its contemporary function as a postcolonial ideology aimed at disrupting entrenched power structures and perceptual categories. Baroque forms are exuberant, ample, dynamic, and porous, and in the regions colonized by Catholic Europe, the baroque was itself eventually colonized. In the New World, its transplants immediately began to reflect the cultural perspectives and iconographies of the indigenous and African artisans who built and decorated Catholic structures, and Europe’s own cultural products were radically altered in turn. Today, under the rubric of the Neobaroque, this transculturated baroque continues to impel artistic expression in literature, the visual arts, architecture, and popular entertainment worldwide.
Since neobaroque reconstitutions necessarily require reference to the European baroque, this book begins with the reevaluation of the baroque during the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth. Foundational essays by Friedrich Nietzsche, Heinrich Wölfflin, Walter Benjamin, Eugenio D’Ors, René Wellek, and Mario Praz recuperate and redefine the historical baroque. Their essays lay the groundwork for revisionist Latin American essays, many of which have not been translated into English until now. Authors including Alejo Carpentier, José Lezama Lima, Severo Sarduy, Édouard Glissant, Haroldo de Campos, Carlos Fuentes, Gonzalo Celorio and Irlemar Chiampi understand the New World baroque and the neobaroque as decolonizing strategies in Latin America and provide models for other postcolonial contexts as well. The French theorist Christine Buci-Glucksmann rethinks baroque hermeneutics for contemporary purposes, as do the authors of the six new essays included here. In all cases, these essays move between art history and literary criticism to provide a rich interdisciplinary discussion.