Casanovas, Martí. Excerpts from revista de avance (Havana) vol. 1, no. 5 (15 May 1927).
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This militant text, published about a week after the inauguration of the exhibition sharing the title with the journal—1927, justifies the program of the radical artistic renewal that both the show and 1927: revista de avance proposed. The author, Martí Casanovas, “condemns” and “negates” the art of the nineteenth century, which he sees as the “subservient tool of the capitalist bourgeoisie.” Against the professional virtuosity and technical mastery of the “industrialized” and “dehumanized” art of the past, he advocates for the return to the “vulgar human” feelings and emotions, which—when conveyed with a clear and simple visual language—are understandable to everyone, not only to the upper-class minority. As such, he rejects novelty focused exclusively on visual appearances but deprived of strong social engagement. As the example of a rejuvenating artistic effort, Casanovas gives “great humanism of the murals of Diego Rivera,” admired by the broad sectors of the Mexican people.
The author of this article, Catalonian-born and Cuba-based art critic Martí Casanovas (1894–1966), was one of the five founders of the ground-breaking journal that became known under its subtitle, revista de avance. The journal was launched in March 1927 and titled after the year of its publication. Its emergence was promptly followed by the exhibition under the same title, 1927, held at the association of Painters and Sculptors in Havana, between May 7 and 31, which featured such young vanguardia painters as Eduardo Abela (1889–1965), Carlos Enríquez (1900–1957), Antonio Gattorno (1904–1980), and Victor Manuel García (1897–1969). Casanovas followed this early manifesto by the lecture delivered at a closing reception of the exhibition, reprinted as Arte nuevo [New art] in the journal on June 15, 1927 (ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 832040)].
In his call to reject narrow, “mere” visual experimentation and innovation, Casanovas implicitly disavows such avant-garde trends as the Mexican stridentism [See (doc. no. 803840)] and the Spanish-originated ultraism, which many Latin American artists followed (doc. no. 732642). In contrast, he explicitly allies himself and his colleagues with the Mexican muralism. Later, Casanovas would also associate his position with that advocated by the Peruvian magazine Amauta, led by the Marxist thinker José Carlos Mariátegui. Casanovas’s texts demonstrates that he was well versed in the artistic tendencies and debates of his moment. As such, “Nuevos rumbos” is the key contribution to the formulation of new and socially progressive, modern American art.
This text was published in English in Mari Carmen Rami´rez and He´ctor Olea, eds., Inverted Utopias: Avant-Garde Art in Latin America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 469.