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After visiting the ENBA sculpture studios in Lima, the author comments on works by Coello and Pozo, and mentions the sculptress Carmen Saco. He then interviews Manuel Piqueras Cotolí, the architect from Madrid, in whose studio he examines two works: a sculpted head of Zoila Sánchez Concha and a statue—which he finds absurd, Goya-like—of Hipólito Unanue. Piqueras explains: “I have given him that rather deformed look on purpose, to make him appear monumental. The rest is acceptable for young ladies.” He talks about his forthcoming trip to the United States, admitting to being tired of the “undeserved praise and unjustified prestige” he has received in Peru. He recalls working with the sculptor Agustín Querol on the Bolognesi monument in Lima, discusses the Spanish painter Sorolla, and mentions Zuloaga and Rusiñol. He says he will soon be back in Lima where there will surely be rapid development of “an artistic population” and “people with good taste.”
In this article the art critic Carlos Solari (1883–1932), writing under the pseudonym “Don Quijote,” reports on his visit to the sculpture studios at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA) in Lima, where he interviewed Manuel Piqueras Cotolí.
Manuel Piqueras Cotolí was a Spanish architect, sculptor, and urban planner, who had lived in Peru since 1919. In Madrid he was a member of the renowned Miguel Blay’s sculpture studio, and worked at the Codina foundry and at the Algueis construction company. He later studied at the Academia de España in Rome. When he arrived in Peru he took charge of the sculpture department at the recently created Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA). Founded in 1919, ENBA was originally part of the Civilista party’s program during the José Pardo administration (1915–19), whose goal was to introduce the nineteenth-century European academic tradition to Peru. The ENBA’s first director, Daniel Hernández, permitted the development of nationalist movements (during Augusto Leguía’s presidency, 1919–30) that eventually influenced the direction the school would take, encouraged mainly by the painter José Sabogal and by the above-mentioned Piqueras Cotolí, who created what came to be known as the “neo-Peruvian style” that consisted of a synthesis of elements appropriated from the Viceroyalty and pre-Colombian periods. Though at first those elements appeared as structural forms and the pre-Hispanic repertoire was used for decorative purposes, in time the fusion became more complex as the style absorbed contemporary European modernist ideas.
His first major project was the ENBA’s facade (Lima 1924), and in that same year he designed the reception hall at the government palace in Lima for the centennial celebrations held in honor of the Battle of Ayacucho. In 1929 he created what is considered his masterpiece, the Peruvian Pavilion at the Exposición Iberoamericana de Sevilla [see the following essay, also by Solari, writing under the pseudonym “Don Quijote”: “Notas de arte: para la exposición de Sevilla” (doc. no. 1140871)], whose symbolic center was the grand staircase. On his return, following the overthrow of the Leguía regime (1930), he was dismissed from ENBA and became a consultant at the Escuela de Artes y Oficios (Lima). The finest works he produced during his final period were his marble sculpture of Hipólito Unanue (Parque Universitario, Lima, 1931); the unfinished tribute to the writer Ricardo Palma; and the sketch for the Basílica de Santa Rosa project. The inspiration for the latter monument, which was both modernist and pre-Columbian, sparked a heated debate about the appropriateness and relevance of Indigenism and the neo-Peruvian style; though this style had no direct followers it was similar to the visual art of those who, other than José Sabogal’s group, were also interested in the idea of a national Peruvian art, such as Elena Izcue (1889–1970), Jorge Vinatea Reinoso (1900–1931), and Alejandro González Trujillo “Apu-Rimak” (1900–85). Piqueras influenced the Peruvian architects Héctor Velarde and Emilio Harth-Terré, and applied to his work the theories of the Argentineans Martín Noel (1888–1963) and Ángel Guido (1896–1960), two architects who also explored the mestizo-Viceroyal style.
[As complementary reading on this artist, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by G. Salinas Cossío “Manuel Piqueras Cotolí” (doc. no. 1136631); and by Manuel Solari Swayne “Manuel Piqueras Cotolí” (doc. no. 1141324)].