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.
This anonymous article mentions three important events in the Uruguayan visual arts calendar in 1940: the exhibition of French painting, the Salón Municipal de Artes Plásticas, and the critiques of the Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas. These events are also seen as support for an anti-government discourse that reveals the impotence felt by dissident artists when faced with policies implemented by the State. Their frustration arises from an inability to articulate clear proposals in terms of their aesthetic or labor union concerns.
In the 1940s, under the shadow of the complex and catastrophic situation the world was facing, Uruguayan artists tended to favor an “escapist” iconography, cultivating a lyrical view of “nature” that sought to continue the humanist culture that was threatened with annihilation. This neo-Romanticism was in stark contrast to the disasters wrought by technology and war; in other words, artists revived a cultural tradition which they expressed in landscape paintings that echoed French naturalist-Romantic styles. The CNBA (Comisión Nacional de Bellas Artes) was created in Uruguay in 1936; this organization consisted of politicians and intellectuals who were, by and large, of the same generation and came from the country’s old families that represented the local aristocracy, landholders, and banks. The confluence of hegemonic values and the protectionism of artistic activities led to a flow of naturalist works and landscapes (painted in an Impressionist style) that were supported and promoted via the National Salons according to tightly controlled selection. The author criticizes this situation, calling it historically stagnant. His protest is in line with the AIAPE’s usual journalistic style that reflected local discontent and concerns, and registered its opposition to the measures imposed by the government at the time. Such opposition was expressed via public statements and demonstrations coordinated by local organizations.
This article is interesting because it describes, quite clearly, the conflict that roiled the visual arts during the 1940s, as demonstrated by the tension, confusion, and indifference of contemporary intellectual discourse. The author repeats a question: what do they think? What do they say? Thus revealing the critic’s puzzlement and the difficulty involved in describing the cultural role played by the press during the country’s socio-political crisis.