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Marta Traba, the Argentine critic who lived in Puerto Rico for some time, accepts that there is a political and cultural “art of resistance” in Latin America and in Puerto Rico. This “resistance” refuses to follow aesthetic models developed in Europe or the United States. According to Traba, Lorenzo Homar and Antonio Martorell are two of the “resistance” artists in Puerto Rico. They have managed to invent visual codes that are oblivious to external influences. These artists also know how to communicate their ideas in what Traba calls “coded art.” Both men therefore speak to the Puerto Rican community that understands the need to protect their cultural identity against a (colonial) dependence on the United States.


There is a second part to this essay, “Myrna Báez: Carta de desciframiento para entender idiosincrasia boricua” [Myrna Báez: Key to Understanding the Idiosyncrasies of the Boricua] published in the newspaper, El Mundo, on October 23, 1976, p. 6B (see doc. no.1061008).

Marta Traba (1930–1983) published a substantial number of articles in the various countries where she lived. When she arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she had previously lived in Bogota, New York, Paris, and Buenos Aires. From August 1970 through the summer of 1971, the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras engaged her to teach a course on Latin American art as well as the obligatory courses on the General Theory of Art History (201) and the History of Modern Art (213), among others, in the department of fine arts. In the summer of 1971, she taught a class on aesthetics. At the end of the summer, the University did not renew her contract. While she was living in Puerto Rico, Traba wrote books, and many newspaper and magazine articles, in which she expressed her views on Puerto Rican art, which prompted considerable response and criticism in art circles.    


Flavia Marichal Lugo
Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Courtesy of Fernando Zalamea Traba, Bogotá, Colombia