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Exhibitions & Events


In 1992, Charles Cosac, a philanthropist, publisher, and collector, brought the work of Brazilian artist Siron Franco to the London-based art gallery Elms Lesters Painting Rooms. Early in 1993, he offers to donate one of Franco’s artworks, recently displayed in London, to the University, with the hopes that this will become a catalyst for the creation of an art collection. Professors Dawn Ades and Valerie Fraser saw in this kind offer an opportunity to establish a pioneering and one-of-a-kind collection at Essex. The scholars formalised their proposal, highlighting the University’s “exceptionally good position” to establish a specialist collection of contemporary Latin American art. The Essex Latin American Centre highlighted the rich connections of staff, visitors, teaching programmes, and research affiliated with the region.

The Collection benefited largely from the Latin Americanist community’s personal contacts in the field, including art gallerists, artists, collectors, curators, and Art History students. Amongst these early supporters, we can find a pioneering collector of modern and contemporary art in Argentina, the founder and director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Marcos Curi, and the Colombian artist and pioneer of pop art in Latin America, Ofelia Rodríguez. It was decided that the Collection would be known under the acronym “UECLAA”, which stands for the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art. The founding donations were first exhibited at the University’s Gallery (now Art Exchange) on December 13, 1993. At the core of the Collections’ aims, purposes, and acquisition policy stood the need to build around existing areas of research within the University of Essex and become the basis of future research for prospective students and scholars in Latin American art.

UECLAA Launch Party (1993)