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    Expresión de principios de la Agrupación Espacio
    El Comercio (Lima, Perú). -- May. 15, 1947
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    El Comercio (Lima, Perú). "Expresión de principios de la Agrupación Espacio." May 15, 1947.

This text is a statement of the principles that governed Espacio [Space], an association made up of Peruvian architects, artists and intellectuals. As Espacio saw it, “Entre el mundo de ayer y el mundo de hoy, se ha establecido el origen de la experiencia más honda de la historia: la génesis de un hombre nuevo y la elaboración de su mensaje” [Between yesterday’s world and today’s world, we have established the origin of the most profound experience in history: the genesis of a new man and the development of his message]. In this context, art “resume e integra en casi su totalidad la comunicación del ser contemporáneo y se realiza para definirlo” [sums up and constitutes practically all the communication of the contemporary being, and it is created to define him]. That would require a rejection of both conventional approaches and “la actitud falsamente romántica” [the falsely romantic attitude] of earlier periods. In other words, they would have to abandon “las formas exteriores en su expresión escuetamente epidérmica y decorativa para tomarlas como producto de un fondo en comunicación con la sustancia” [exterior forms, with their succinctly epidermal and decorative expression, in order to create forms that would emerge from in-depth, substantial communication]. This is why Espacio defines contemporary architecture as a firm rejection of ornamentation and the concept of “estilo” [style], since “[e]l problema reside siempre en el interior” [the problems are always with the interior]. However, Peru has been left at the margins of this “revolution,” since the artists “se pierden aún en una temática folclórica (narrativa y escuetamente objetivada) o evolucionan a destiempo siguiendo la huella de antiguos y ya superados revolucionarios” [are either still wandering off into folkloric themes (narratively and precisely objectified) or else, their development is out-of-step, and they are following in the footsteps of old, outdated revolutionaries]. The group rejects nationalist revivals such as the Neo Colonial trend: “[E]mplear nuevos materiales y disponerlos de acuerdo a un ‘nuevo estilo’ no es realizar arquitectura actual” [To use new materials and arrange them based on a “new style” is not the same as creating contemporary architecture]. Finally, Espacio restates that its respect for both the historical legacy and for modern-day man “nos lleva a la realización de un movimiento artístico y principalmente arquitectónico” [moves us to organize an artistic, mainly architectural, movement], as we pin our hopes on the future of functional, modern architecture.


In May 1947, a group of Peruvian intellectuals mainly consisting of architects formed Espacio, a group whose purpose was to promote and defend architectural and artistic Modernismo in Peru. The group would be the spokesman for a young generation, initially brought together by an ideal of progress that would link the artistic avant-garde to a humanistic perspective. Participants in the group would include the architect, Luis Miró Quesada Garland, the writer, Sebastián Salazar Bondy, the painter, Fernando de Szyszlo and the intellectual, Samuel Pérez Barreto. All these public figures would go on to have influential roles—sometimes at odds with each other—within the Lima art milieu. Espacio launched its activities by publishing a declaration of principles. This was a founding document of Peruvian Modernismo, giving the trend a true organizational and program profile. In the manifesto, the group explicitly rejects the prevalent architectural style of the time, the Neo Colonial revival, which called for the continuity of a “national” architectural tradition based on the use of Vice-Regal ornamentation. While its manifesto was just an outline, Espacio’s reach was even greater once the group had a fairly regular column in Lima’s El Comercio, the daily newspaper of the Miró Quesada family, and when it began to publish its own journal, Espacio (1949–1951). In fact, the editorial in the first issue made an even clearer case for the group casting its lot with artistic renewal, a movement that would represent a commitment to man and to freedom. Nevertheless, given its apolitical tone, statements of this kind did not represent a direct attack on the repression implemented by the dictatorial government of General Manuel A. Odría (1948–56).

Ricardo Kusunoki
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru