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 article by Marcel Gromaire was published in AIAPE magazine—a champion of social realism in art—at a crucial point in the debate over aesthetics in Montevideo: the beginning of painting’s slide toward a “politically committed” form of realism. Abstract-concrete influences were also flowing in from neighboring countries which, in 1950, brought the debate between supporters of figurative and abstract art to a head.
In this article the French painter Marcel Gromaire (1892–1971) discusses the ideological, aesthetic, and social sensibilities of “realism” as an art movement. After the 1848 revolution in France—an uprising of the French people in response to the country’s economic, industrial, and financial crisis—the feeling of disappointment and growing dissatisfaction over the blocking of democratic reforms heightened artists’ commitment to the disenfranchised classes and left wing political movements. According to Gromaire, the artist’s role was to awaken the “slumbering social awareness” of the terrible problems caused by industrialization. Mid-nineteenth-century French realist painters fully endorsed socialist ideas, although with marked differences from one to another. In general, they showed an interest in the situation faced by the more disadvantaged classes, took part in contemporary political events (the Paris Commune, 1871), and created “combative art.” The subject matter of many of the works produced by realist artists in the mid-nineteenth century—a solidarity with the proletariat, with the classes that had been left behind by the Industrial Revolution, and with left-wing movements—can be associated with the struggle against conservative policies. This is why AIAPE magazine published this article in the late 1940s, when interest in “abstract art” was rising in Uruguay, and intellectuals and artists who were members of the AIAPE felt that the “social realism” they had embraced as a political instrument and as an aesthetic discourse since 1934 was beginning to lose ideological support in cultural circles.