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This article advocates “social art” in Uruguay in the framework of the ideological battle between capitalist society and the Soviet Communist regime. The author clearly supports the latter position when he asserts that not even the members of the Confederación de Trabajadores Intelectuales de Uruguay (CTIU) are making social art in the strict sense of the word, but rather furthering, in their production, the aesthetic inertia of previous decades. 


The Confederación de Trabajadores Intelectuales de Uruguay (CTIU) was founded in Montevideo in May 1933 at the initiative of David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) and his companion at the time, Uruguayan Blanca Luz Brum (1905–85). Siqueiros and Blum had arrived in Montevideo in late February, 1933. In April, Siqueiros went on to Buenos Aires and assigned Blanca Luz and a group of other Uruguayans that included painters Guillermo Laborde (1886–1940), Julio Verdié (1900–98), Norberto Berdía (1900–83), and poets Basso Maglio (1899–1961), Juvenal Ortiz Saralegui (1909–59), and Ildefonso Pereda Valdés (1899–1996), the task of founding the CTIU. That meant creating the conditions for the launching a publication, initially entitled Aportación and then Movimiento.  


“Hacia un arte social” was the first article published in the Uruguayan press advocating a tie between art and politics from a leftist perspective informed by Soviet mandates. Starting in 1929, some Uruguayan painters began addressing social issues in their work, specifically the situation of proletarian workers and of marginalized peasants. That tendency grew in the thirties and forties. Notwithstanding, the author of this text states that, paradoxically, the members of the CTIU have not produced “social art” because the conditions have not been favorable. As a solution, he proposes raising consciousness among comrades and exercising patience in what is likely to be a long process. 


The CTIU’s executive committee included well-known figures like painters Julio Verdié and José Pedro Costigliolo, both of them modern artists not associated with “social realism.” That position would soon lead them to leave the confederation.


[For further reading, see in the ICAA digital archive the following texts by Juvenal Ortiz Saralegui: “Consideraciones sobre la expresión heroica” (doc. no. 1225615), “Fuera del Salón Oficial” (doc. no. 1221528), “Hacia el arte revolucionario” (doc. no. 1198856), “Hacia el arte revolucionario III” (doc. no. 1198748), and “Los jurados de los salarios artísticos de 1935 atentó contra la cultura” (doc. no. 1225596)].

Gabriel Peluffo Linari
Biblioteca Nacional de Montevideo