Adele Nelson

Assistant Professor

Art History

Latin American Art

Associate Director, Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS)

Adele Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also serves as Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies (CLAVIS). She received her BA in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Art Semiotics from Brown University and her MA and PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century art of Latin America, with a focus on the postwar and contemporary art of Brazil. Her research and teaching interests include transnational exchange between Latin America, Europe, and the United States; the close study of objects; the history of art institutions, exhibitions, and pedagogy; and theories of modernism.

Dr. Nelson is the author of Jac Leirner in Conversation with/en conversación con Adele Nelson (Fundación Cisneros, 2011), which appeared in Portuguese translation in 2013. Her writings on art from Latin America have appeared in international magazines and academic journals, including Art in AmericaArt JournalArtelogie, and ARTMargins. She has contributed to numerous museum publications, among them, Lygia Clark: Painting as an Experimental Field, 1948–1958 (Guggenheim Bilbao, 2020), Mário Pedrosa: De la naturaleza afectiva de la forma (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2017), Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium (Carnegie Museum of Art/The Art Institute of Chicago/Whitney Museum of American Art, 2016), Mário Pedrosa: Primary Documents (The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2015), and Waldemar Cordeiro: Fantasia exata (Itaú Cultural, 2014). She also contributed to the catalogue and helped to organize the award-winning exhibition Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927–1937 (MoMA, 2008).

Her forthcoming bookForming Abstraction: Art and Institutions in Postwar Brazil, is in press with the University of California Press and will appear in the Studies on Latin American Art series in January 2022. The book highlights the importance of exhibitionary and pedagogical institutions in the development of abstract art in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s and illuminates the complex, strategic processes of citation and adaption of local and international forms. It ultimately demonstrates that Brazilian art institutions and abstract artistic groups—and their exhibitions of abstract art in particular—served as crucial loci for the articulation of societal identities in a newly democratic nation at the onset of the Cold War. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, UT Austin, and Temple University, where she was an assistant professor of art history from 2012 to 2016.

She is co-organizing, with MacKenzie Stevens, the exhibition Social Fabric: Art and Activism in Contemporary Brazil for the Visual Arts Center at UT Austin to open in September 2022. The project received The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Grant. You can read more about the exhibition here, recent visits and talks by some of its artists herehere, and here, research by UT Austin graduate students here, and see a video of Rosana Paulino’s talk here.

Back to top