Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    In "Fantasía y cálculo (sobre el arte decorativo)," Argentinean architects Alberto Prebisch and Ernesto Vautier critique the decorative arts, asserting that rational design should supplant frivolous “artistic” and decorative design elements. Prebisch and Vautier contrast the Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray Bridge, the work of an engineer, with the walkway at the El Rosedal in Rosario, Argentina, the work of a decorator. Prebisch and Vautier argue that the Bridge is a more successful aesthetic construction because it is rational and functional. They claim that style and beauty garner too much attention, and should be subordinated to logic and rationality. They favorably compare industrial products, such as the automobile, the airplane, and the transatlantic ship with the aesthetic mastery of the Parthenon, arguing that these are the masterpieces of the industrialized and rational era.

    Annotations

    The Argentinean architects, Alberto Prebisch (1899–1970) and Ernesto Vautier (b. 1899), developed a partnership after traveling together to Europe where they became familiar with the work of Le Corbusier and Paul Valéry. Upon their return from Europe in 1924, Prebisch and Vautier joined the recently founded literary journal, Martín Fierro. The journal was headed by modernist writer Evaristo Méndez, and its other contributors included Jorge Luis Borges, Emilio Pettoruti, and Xul Solar. Prebisch and Vautier were also awarded a prize by Argentina’s Salón de Bellas Artes. Prebisch joined the magazine Sur, and became the dean of the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1955; interim mayor of Buenos Aires from 1962 to 1963; and director of the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1970. He is best known for his construction of the obelisk in the Plaza de la República that has become an iconic symbol of Buenos Aires. "Fantasía y cálculo (sobre el arte decorativo)" exemplifies the interest in modernizing design in Latin America and reflects the rapid industrialization and technological progress [that is occurring].