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March 30, 2010

Beyond Frida

To the uninitiated, the term "Latin American art" conjures well-worn names and limited geographic understanding: Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera. For Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, one of its most prominent collectors, this lack of awareness has proved both a source of amusement—"Kahlo's fame all started when Madonna began buying her work"—and an opportunity. In 2002 Cisneros, who is married to Venezuelan media magnate Gustavo Cisneros, opened a virtual museum (at coleccioncisneros.org), allowing viewers access to cutting-edge works representative of the region's lesser-known art trends. "Geometric abstraction, for example, is now one of the most important elements of Latin American art," she says. "Vastly different from Frida and Diego."