Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    This manifesto was signed by the editorial board of Contemporánea: la revolución en el arte magazine, one of the platforms of a movement for cultural reform in Argentina that prompted a fertile overlap between the visual arts and literature. This important document explains the magazine’s guidelines and the theoretical position adopted by its members and contributors, who advocated a “revolution in art” and applauded the work of the Argentinean concrete avant-garde movements of the 1940s and 1950s: the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención, Movimiento de Arte Madí, and Perceptismo.

    Annotations

    The editorial in the first issue of Contemporánea: la revolución en el arte explains the theoretical position adopted by the magazine’s members and contributors, who advocated a “revolution in art” and applauded the work of the Argentinean concrete avant-garde movements of the 1940s and 1950s: the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención, Movimiento de Arte Madí, and Perceptismo. The manifesto’s authors dismiss exhibitions that are opposed to the “revolution in art” as “reactionary,” and claim that regressive tendencies in art obstruct the artist’s creativity. They defend the new movement, which they call “arte-purismo,” and deny that it is “art for art’s sake,” something passé, or romantic or dehumanized art. They reject Parnassianism, symbolism, and expressionism, and salute the inventive qualities of the historical avant-gardes. They criticize approaches that claim justification based on the principle of authority and existentialism, and disagree with the “geopoetic” foundations of the New World. They also stress the social and political role of art from a materialist perspective, stating that only “invention” can produce a “neo-humanist” form of art that is consistent with contemporary reality. It should be noted that—perhaps acknowledging that it is impossible to stop the march of progress and underscoring their intention to extend and go beyond the radical works of the historical avant-gardes—this text includes a photograph of Continuity, the sculpture produced by the champion of concrete art Max Bill (1908–94) in Zurich in 1946–1947 (it was destroyed in 1948), which is a variation on the theme of the infinity loop or the Moebius strip.

     

    Contemporánea: la revolución en el arte magazine was one of the platforms of a movement for cultural reform in Argentina that prompted a fertile overlap between the visual arts and other artistic fields such as music and literature. Contemporánea was published in Buenos Aires from August 1948 to August 1950. The magazine’s director was the Argentinean poet, storyteller, essayist, novelist, and dramatist Juan Jacobo Bajarlía (1914–2005). The magazine’s contributors included the Argentinean poet Edgar Bayley (1919–90), the Argentinean visual artist Juan Melé (1923–2012), who was a member of the Asociación de Arte Concreto-Invención, and the Uruguayan visual artist Carmelo Arden Quin [Carmelo Heriberto Alves] (1913–2010), a founding member of the Movimiento de Arte Madí. We would suggest reading another article published in Contemporánea in which Melé lists the guidelines required to produce truly “realistic” concrete art in “Planteo concreto de la pintura bidimensional” [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 730362)]; also an article by Bajarlía in which he expresses his thoughts on the political meaning of art in “Significado militante del arte” (doc. no. 1297767). Contemporánea enjoyed a second run, appearing in the fall of 1956 and again in October 1957. During that period Bajarlía was assisted by the Argentinean writers Jorge Carrol (b. 1933), Alberto Vanasco (1925–93), and Miguel Brascó (1926–2014). In the first issue published during this second period, the editorial essay reiterated what had been stated in the 1948 manifesto and restated the magazine’s intention to promote a revolution in art in “Contemporánea” (doc. no. 1297835).