Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail

In “Teoría y prácticas no-objetualistas en América Latina” [Non-Objectualist Theory and Practice in Latin America], Juan Acha, the Peruvian art critic who lived in Mexico, explains the basis of his theory concerning Latin American artistic practices in the 1970s and 1980s in Mexico, North America, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. According to Acha, Non-Objectualism was not a departure from the object, but a review of the meanings implicit in the presentation of the object. He believes that this is how art is involved in the “sensitive application of social languages” as classified according to factors epistemological (referring to the conceptual dimension) and ontological (referring to the nature of artistic activities). Acha describes Latin American Conceptual art within a theory of art that borders on historical materialism, in which variables in class and context define cultural relevance and the criteria for judgments on value in art, as well as in craft and design. The definition “Realidad Artística” [Artistic Reality]—referring to a place in terms of its collective cultural expression—helps to define the creative processes and aesthetic dissertations of Latin American culture.  


In “Teoría y prácticas no-objetualistas en América Latina” [Non-Objectualist Theory and Practice in Latin America], the art critic Juan Acha (1916–1995) explains the basis for his theory concerning Latin American Conceptual art. This document is important because it provides the theoretical context of the essay, as well as throws light on the selection of the artists invited to the exhibition. It also suggests an alternative perspective on the subject of ideological Latin American Conceptual art, which was originally proposed in Spain by the art and architecture theoretician Simón Marchán Fiz. 


Acha started his career as a critic in the late 1950s at El Comercio in Lima, where he used the pseudonym J. Nahuaca. He is the author of renowned essays on Latin American art history, including Arte y Sociedad en Latinoamérica [Art and Society in Latin America] (1979) and Las culturas estéticas de América Latina [Aesthetic Cultures in Latin America] (1994). In 1981, with the assistance of the Museo de Arte Moderno [Modern Art Museum] in Medellín, as part of the Third Coltejer Art Biennial, Acha presented the “Primer coloquio de arte no-objetual” [First Symposium on Non-Objectual Art] which included the Argentine anthropologist who lived in Mexico, Néstor García Canclini (b. 1939); the Czech critic who lived in Peru, Mirko Lauer (b. 1947); and the French editor who lived in Chile, Nelly Richard. This event led to a number of discussions about Conceptual art in Latin America. Thanks to the No-Grupo and to Felipe Ehrenberg (b. 1943), both from Mexico, and to Ana Mendieta (1948–1985) from Cuba, and to Marta Minujín (b. 1943) from Argentina, a variety of Conceptual art events were subsequently arranged.

Taller Historia Crítica del Arte (UN): David Gutiérrez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Mtra. Mahia Biblos, Mexico, D.F.