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Juan Calzadilla provides an overview of the career of Venezuelan artist Emilio Boggio, from his early academic phase through his return to Venezuela in 1919, one year before his death. Calzadilla discusses the influences on Boggio, his travels in Italy and France, as well as how the landscape became the primary focus of his work. The critic addresses the importance of Boggio’s native Venezuela, its fate, throughout the artist’s life: his youth in Venezuela, his ties to other Venezuelans in Paris (Antonio Herrera Toro, Emilio Mauri, Cristóbal Rojas, and Arturo Michelena), and his return to the country shortly before his death.
This text by critic Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) provides insight into the work of Venezuelan artist Emilio Boggio (1857?1920) beyond the Impressionist facet for which he is most widely known. Calzadilla starts out discussing Boggio’s academic period before 1900. He explains that Boggio himself was not very interested in his production from that period, which is logical considering that the artist—unlike other Venezuelan artists such as Emilio Mauri (1855–1908), Antonio Herrera Toro (1857–1914), Cristóbal Rojas (1860–90), and Arturo Michelena (1863–98), all of whom Boggio got to know while in Paris—pursued Modernism “at all cost.” It is not common to relate those four painters, about whom a good deal of academic work has been done, with Boggio, who was known as an Impressionist. It would be easy to reach the facile conclusion that they were artists belonging to different periods, but in reality they were members of the same generation who explored different paths at the same time in the same city. Calzadilla also discusses the solitary nature of Boggio’s work and his expressive autonomy, which allowed him to gradually rid himself of anything superfluous: the academy, art salons (though he did participate in a number of them), and even social gatherings. Calzadilla recounts how, as an ailing old man, Boggio visited Caracas in 1919. He describes the sensation Boggio’s works caused in a Caracas art milieu eager to learn what Impressionism was through direct contact with original works. Missing from this account, perhaps, is recognition of the fact that while, at the end of his life, Boggio was painting landscapes that dazzled Caracas, twelve years had passed since Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) had painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon [The Young Ladies of Avignon] and nine since Wassily Kandinsky (1866?1944) had painted his first abstract watercolor.