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 essay, Juan Calzadilla describes some of the characteristics of classic works of sculpture. Both ancient artists like Polykleitos and more recent figures like Alberto Giacometti make use of a vertical form in sculpture akin to living bodies. Calzadilla asserts that Valerie Brathwaite has transformed sculpture in Venezuela by means of a new horizontal dynamic that does away with classical postures, both heroic and reclining, that have been passed on from the Greeks. In Calzadilla’s view, Brathwaite gives sculpture what he calls a new “aesthetic of the crawling,” eschewing tradition and placing “the terrestrial” at the core of South American culture.
Written on the occasion of Valerie Brathwaite’s third solo show in Venezuela and first at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas—the earlier shows were at Galería Banap in 1971 and at Galería Inciba in 1972—this text by critic Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) is one of the first essays on artist Valerie Brathwaite (b. 1940) published in the country. The text addresses a particular stage in the work of the Venezuelan sculptor, who was born in Trinidad, one in which the horizontal is used to recreate natural phenomena such as the flow of magma and the formation of mountains. Years later, Brathwaite’s work would change course as she began producing totally vertical pieces. For Calzadilla, the greatest virtue of this stage of Brathwaite’s sculpture is its ability to overcome the tensions of the classical tradition in which vertical figures resting on feet, legs, or pedestals imposed themselves on the space. Unfortunately, this is one of the few texts written on Brathwaite and, since it addresses only a very specific phase in her production, it is of limited use to understanding her work as a whole. Calzadilla’s interest lies in underscoring the specifically South American nature of the artist’s symbology more than its sculptural value.