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 critical essay, Juan Calzadilla discusses the independent, caustic attitude of the visual artist Manuel Quintana Castillo vis-à-vis the controversy that raged between abstract and figurative artists in the 1950s. According to Calzadilla, the artist (and writer) took a personal approach to his exploration of American signs, as is clearly evident in his emblematic work Cúpira. After his involvement with the TLA (Taller Libre de Arte), Quintana Castillo’s work retained certain figurative elements, combined with a geometric Constructivist aesthetic, which defined the second period of his career. A third period began in the 1960s, which according to Calzadilla, embraced the Informalist trend that was in vogue in Venezuela at the time; the artist’s work, however, still included vestiges of his previous period, and therefore was a transitional phase. The essayist explains that Quintana Castillo’s work continued to rely on those elements, transforming them and adding new meanings over the course of his career.
The historian Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) was the first to review and promote the Venezuelan visual artist and essayist Manuel Quintana Castillo (1928?2016). The two men had been friends since the mid-1950s, when Calzadilla and other intellectuals (Adriano González León, Rodolfo Izaguirre, Salvador Garmendia, Luis García Morales, Sergio Moreira, and Mario Torrealba Lossi) used to visit the painter’s studio in El Valle (Caracas). Calzadilla is therefore an authority on Quintana Castillo’s work. The author describes the artist’s independent and heterodox, albeit solidary, stance concerning art movements, such as the TLA (Taller Libre de Arte) and El Techo de la Ballena, and his membership in Sardio, the literary association.