Forms of Tradition in Contemporary Spain

Forms of trad cover

A groundbreaking study of artists balancing tradition with innovation

in a globalized environment


Winner of the 2006 Chicago Folklore Prize

University of Chicago / American Folklore Society

The fast-paced demands of a global economy make it increasingly difficult for folk and traditional artists to stay true to their heritages. All too often, artists either isolate themselves in an impossible struggle against the modern world or give up traditional methods and practices to follow current trends. Forms of Tradition in Contemporary Spain is an innovative study of contemporary Spanish folk art and traditional artists. It charts the varied routes artists have found to evade these pitfalls while pursuing their art.

Through case studies of four considerably different kinds of artists—a traditional potter, a couple that creates huge paper-maché figures for festival processions and dancing, a group of masked, costumed “devils” that enlivens traditional street theatre with modern pyrotechnics, and an idiosyncratic builder of one of the most spectacular art environments known worldwide—this book broadens the existing understanding of traditional arts by creating a more realistic and expansive interpretation of tradition and the influences upon each creative act.

Featuring 142 color photographs and 9 black-and-white illustrations, this ground-breaking work is a major contribution to the field of art history as well as a celebration of the artists it profiles. The four different kinds of artists were chosen because each is emblematic of a particular tradition, and each represents a distinct type of relationship with a given community. In addition to analyzing and describing the art and artists featured in the book, Jo Farb Hernández extrapolates from these case studies to a broader range of understanding across a wide range of fields. Breaking down old divisions in art history, she presents information which has not received much attention in the U.S. and provides access in English to work that was previously available only in the original Spanish or Catalan.

9 x 12”, 225 pages, 142 color and 9 b & w photographs, introduction, bibliography, index

ISBN 1-57806-750-2, cloth

ISBN 1-57806-751-0, paper

ART013000 / ART015030 / ART006000  – Folk art / Art history / Hispanic studies

Co-published by the University Press of Mississippi with the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, San José State University


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