Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    In this May 15, 1927 issue of Revista de avance, the “Guidelines” section includes four brief articles. The first is a commentary on the political and intellectual development that took place during the years after the foundation of the Cuban Republic (on May 20, 1902). Twenty-five years later, the avance editors stated, “Our intellectual and ideological progress has not kept up with this important, but superficial transformation.” Once Cuba gained its independence from Spain, the revolutionary spirit tapered off and the transformative energy ran out, leading to what appeared to be a state of exhaustion and accommodation. The editors deplored the fact that the most important Cuban thinkers, who understood the historic legacy of their predecessors, were only interested in obtaining government positions. The result of that situation was a discontinuity in critical thinking and a lack of intellectual renewal. In writing the history of that social unease, the editors discussed how the debate about that situation gave rise to The Protest of the Thirteen in 1923. This protest strengthened the link between a new generation of young intellectuals—including the avance editors—and the struggle against the corrupt government of the Cuban president at the time, Alfredo Zayas. It was precisely the convergence of intellectual and political thought that characterized that movement, whose members considered themselves followers of Martí’s ideas. The protest would give rise to the Grupo Minorista, with the Revista de avance editors included among its members. In the next article, the editors celebrate the recent publication of a declaración by that same group. The “Declaración” states the basic concerns, both political and intellectual, of the members of the Grupo Minorista. This manifesto demands freedom of artistic expression and defends the value of knowledge, the Latin American union, and Cuban economic independence. It also adopts a stance against Yankee imperialism.

     

    The other articles are notes announcing two lectures that would be given as part of the events of “1927” Exposición de Arte Nuevo. The Cuban writer and journalist Francisco Ichaso would present an essay on the poetry of Góngora on the third centenary of his death. Moreover, the Spanish musician, orchestrator, and composer Pedro Sanjuán would give the last talk in the series, in which he would discuss “new trends in the musical arts.” 

    Annotations

    The Revista de avance had a section entitled “Guidelines,” which included short informative articles or comments on matters or events related to the focus of the journal. In this section, the editors informed the reader about changes, clarification, and comments on previous articles or matters of interest, in the form of brief articles. In this issue, of particular importance are two short texts that are intimately related: (1) the article on the first twenty-five years of the Cuban Republic and (2) the one that addresses the importance of the recent publication in national magazines of the Grupo Minorista’s “Declaración.” Founded in 1923 by some of the same people involved in The Protest of the Thirteen, this group could be characterized by its heterogeneity and commitment to the political problems facing the island. The group comprised writers, artists, historians, and art critics as well as intellectuals with degrees in law and political science. Many of the debates that took place within that circle arose from the political positions of its members, especially a vigorous opposition to annexation by the United States. The Protest of the Thirteen was a significant event in Cuban history, since it marked the birth of the student struggles against whatever corrupt government was in power and the dictatorships, first that of Machado and later that of Batista. Among the most distinguished public figures of the time was Rubén Martínez Villena (1899–1934), who died at a young age from tuberculosis.   

     

    Pedro Sanjuán (1886–1976), who would present a lecture in conjunction with the Exposición de Arte Nuevo, as announced, was a distinguished Spanish musician, orchestrator, and composer. He trained in Madrid with musicians of the stature of Manuel de Falla and Joaquín Turina, two of the most important Spanish composers in the twentieth century. In 1923, he arrived in Cuba, where he played a key role in the avant-garde intellectual movement as a precursor of the new musical trends and mentor of young Cuban musicians. In 1932, he returned to Spain, and two years later, he was awarded the National Music Prize there. He left Spain due to the political unrest in 1934.

     

    [For further reading, see in the ICAA digital archive other “Directrices” published on: March 30, 1927 (doc. no. 1298727); April 15, 1927 (doc. no. 1298763); April 30, 1927 (doc. no. 1299725 May 30, 1927 (doc. no. 1299841); August 15, 1927 (doc. no. 1299913); August 30, 1927 (doc. no. 1299981); September 15, 1927 (doc. no. 1300019); and September 30, 1927 (doc. no. 1300074)].