Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    La Habana, Cub : [s.n.], April 15, 1927
    Journal article – Essays
    Casanovas, Martí. “Almanaque.” Revista de Avance, vol. 1, no. 3 (La Habana, Cuba), April 15, 1927.
Editorial Categories [?]

In this issue of Revista de avance, the journalist and art critic Martí Casanovas (born in Catalonia) provides a brief commentary on the twelfth exhibition at the Salón de Bellas Artes, which he finds somewhat mediocre. Without being radically opposed to the works shown there, Casanovas suggests that perhaps the salon is in “a time of transition or recess between what will be definitively left behind and the future.” These observations serve as an introduction to 1927: Exposición de Arte Nuevo, which the writer finds much more interesting and innovative. This brief article gives the names of some of the participants in the exhibition 1927 including Alice Neel, Carlos Enríquez, Jaime Valls, Marcelo Pogolotti, Ramón Loy, Víctor Manuel García, Antonio Gattorno, Juan José Sicre, and Rafael Blanco. 


The second subject in this section is a critique of a performance of the London String Quartet in Havana. The Cuban writer Francisco Ichaso offers a positive assessment of the string quartet from London, which he celebrates both for its technique and repertoire. It is precisely the synthesis of old and new works that leads the writer to deem the quartet innovative. Although it is a type of group that is often overlooked, the quartet is heir to a classical tradition as well as the bearer of modern musical expression.


The exhibition Arte Nuevo, announced in an earlier issue, began to firm up through the selection of artists listed in this brief article. Along with the other members and editors of Revista de avance, Martí Casanovas predicted that the event would be a turning point for the visual arts in Cuba. The event would not just be a show presenting the new aesthetics and art trends. Instead, it would represent the critical thinking of the whole intellectual movement that was a response to the political atmosphere of the period as well as the spirit of the “new times.” In conjunction with the exhibition, avance published a series of debates focused on defining the artistic values and unique qualities of this “new art.” In the essays that specifically cover the exhibition, the art historian adopts a definition of what is “new” as something militant, in particular, art that is committed to the ethical and social problems of the time. Along with the exhibition, there would be parallel events such as lectures and talks, with discussions revolving around elements reflected in the new art such as a changed awareness of how the social and political aspects of life are related to aesthetics.    


By 1927, the London String Quartet had already achieved international fame. That same year, the quartet held concerts in several Latin American cities, including Buenos Aires and Havana. Ichaso shares the reviews published about the string quartet from London when it gave a concert in New York in the early 1920s. As an article in avance, Ichaso’s assessment meant one more opportunity to emphasize the importance of innovation in the context of art practice in Cuba. Even so, his definition of “new art” was somewhat contradictory, since it would both inherit the European tradition and express its own identity. Moreover, the kinds of newness were unimaginable without considering similar experiments by European artists and intellectuals, with whom their Cuban counterparts found points of agreement as well as rupture. 


[Regarding new art, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: “Arte Nuevo,” by Martí Casanovas (doc. no. 832040); “‘1927’ Exposición de Arte Nuevo,” (anonymous) (doc. no. 1299824); and “Al levar el ancla,” by Alejo Carpentier et al. (doc. no. 1298675)].

Patricia Ortega-Miranda; ICAA Team.
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA