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.
The critic Eduardo Dieste discusses Humberto Causa’s work shortly after the latter’s death. Dieste associates the Uruguayan painter’s work with a movement of renewal—known as planista—that swept the country in the 1920s. This style, which focused on portraying the local landscape, applied European standards in the use of color and certain ideas regarding the composition of geometric planes. Together with José Cuneo, Causa was one of the first Uruguayan exponents of the style of painting that depicted landscapes based on trimmed planes and vibrant colors.
The approach taken by the critic Eduardo Dieste (1881–1954) introduced a period of humanist-based art criticism that revealed the links that existed between the work produced by Uruguayan artists and European painting traditions. In the 1920s, Dieste’s vision was of great importance in Uruguayan cultural circles: he exerted considerable influence through the Agrupación Teseo, through his regular presence at local coffee shops tertulias or gatherings (that fostered intellectual exchanges across a range of disciplines), and through his countless visits to artists’ studios and his constant contact with writers and poets. He preached a steady stream of sermons aimed at expanding tastes and encouraging new techniques for renewing artistic expressions by incorporating the social and economic changes that were taking place at the time in Uruguay.
The essays in Dieste’s book Teseo are focused on the latter objective, especially the essay about “another painter of light.” On considering how Humberto Causa (1890–1925) treated light in his work, the critic alluded to that quality in the title of the essay in which he placed Causa among a group of artists with similar concerns, such as José Cuneo (1887–1977) and Andrés Etchabarne Bidart (1889–1931), among others. The essay is a reaffirmation of the new style that was based on local landscapes, the play of light, and an unexplored compositional arrangement of facing color planes—creating, in some cases, stridencies that hint at Fauvist influences—which led to the name “pintura planista.” This movement was fairly widespread in Uruguay during the 1920s and lasted (albeit quite exhausted by then) until the late 1930s. Both Causa and Cuneo are viewed as pioneers in this new aesthetic; both of them trained at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Montevideo, and were awarded scholarships to study in Europe (in Causa’s case from 1913 to 1918). They also traveled together, as when they visited the department of Maldonado (Uruguay) to paint local landscapes. The critic is determined to show the existence of a group experience that was sensitive to the local environment; that is, a group that combined a criollismo culto with a European-style modernism, both of which formed part of the nativism of the 1920s.