The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, Spanish writer and critic Fernando Ayala García-Duarte provides a comprehensive theoretical discussion of the relationship between works of art and their specific social contexts, as well as how art can effect changes in the social structures from which it emerges. First, the author asserts that the supreme value of art resides in “beauty.” However, art does not exist in a vacuum; it has a social dimension that is manifested in two ways. First, the work forms part of a tradition and exists in a specific time and place. Works of art are not, therefore, isolated phenomena and, hence, it is possible to construct a history of art. Second, the relationship between art and society is not limited to mere reflection, where the former mirrors the latter. Art has its own objectifiable sociological effects, which Ayala García-Duarte calls “socializations of art.” The most important of these “socializations” is, the author claims, the category of the “audience,” which takes shape along with artistic production. Most of the text addresses the “reception of works” in a sociological framework in keeping with social hierarchies, relations of production, and the formation of elites capable of understanding art. In closing, the article asserts that it is only possible to understand works of art in terms of the social and cultural codes in which they take shape, codes that also determine the work’s audience and place in tradition.
It is striking that a publication like Revista de las Indias, which was put out by the Ministerio de Educación Nacional [Ministry of Education] of Colombia, would dedicate so much space to a discussion of art theory at a moment when sociological approaches to art were just beginning to emerge in the Americas and Europe. As such, this article attests to the fact that—more than two decades before the publication of essential works on this topic by Arnold Hauser (1892-1978) and Pierre Francastel (1900-1970)—pivotal concepts regarding the relationship between art and society were already being discussed in theoretical terms in Colombia. It can be concluded, then, that articles like this one furthered the emergence of art criticism with a social inclination in the country, as is evident in the writings of, for instance, Jorge Gaitán Durán (1924-1962) and Luis Vidales Jaramillo (1900-1990).
This article is the last of a three-part series by Spanish writer Ayala García-Duarte on the sociology of art. The series was published in the Revista de las Indias between December 1945 and January 1946. The series, which is more than sixty pages in its entirety, presents the major theoretical problems of the sociology of art. In the first part, published under the title “Arte y Sociedad,” the author sets out to establish the basic relationships between social realities and artistic practices on the basis of economic and historical concepts like social hierarchy and the conditions of production. In the second, entitled “Los ideales estéticos,” Ayala García-Duarte argues that the aims of a work of art exist even before its conception as such, and that those aims are in keeping with social processes of idealization. This third part analyzes the social changes provoked by works when they are able to create a certain audience, one determined by both tradition and socio-cultural context.
Born in Spain, Francisco Ayala García-Duarte (1906–2009) was a novelist, literary and art critic, university professor, and member of the Real Academia Española. His work was awarded a number of prizes, including the “Príncipe de Asturias” and the “Cervantes” awards.