Grupo 8. "Tenemos Voz". Boletín de Artes Visuales GRUPO 8. N°1 (Montevideo, Junio 1959):3.
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This document is a statement issued by the Montevideo-based GRUPO 8. Although diverse, all of the group members produced “abstract art”; in the late fifties, it was a sort of avant-garde functional to local industry insofar as the group connected artists and the field of industrial design. Among other things, the text explains the premise and objectives of the group, and the need for it to make itself known around the world; it expresses skepticism about the romantic idea of the “genius” and support for joint action, which it deems enriching; and it rejects aesthetic definition. As a collective, GRUPO 8 was a summation of individualities; it emphasized individual freedom as crucial to the contemporary artist. The group did not revolve around a dogmatic aesthetic agenda or uphold collaboration. The GRUPO 8 was the first collective geared to posting designers in Uruguayan small industry and communicating their ideas through their work throughout the country and abroad while refusing to participate in biennials or group shows.
The fifties in Uruguay witnessed the consolidation of an “abstract” tendency in the visual arts. It was a period of industrial expansion that required labor in areas connected to the visual arts—graphic and industrial design, above all in textile—which meant that artists began to take an interest in advertising graphics and in the opportunities offered by Uruguayan industry. The Good-Design Awards based in the United States and Europe (mainly Germany) generated expectations for employment on the part of a certain sector of artists and intellectuals. The aim of the award was to recognize innovative and original product design around the world. Those employment expectations were first formulated in 1940, and debated intensively in 1958 and in 1959 by professors at the Facultad de Arquitectura and the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Uruguay in relation to the involvement of visual artists in architecture projects. The professional skills of architects, artists, and designers proved limited when it came to the design of artisanal objects and objects for domestic use. The original members of the Grupo 8 were Óscar García Reino, Carlos Páez Vilaró, Miguel Ángel Pareja, Raúl Pavlotzky, Lincoln Presno, Julio Verdié, Américo Spósito, and Alfredo Testoni. It was based on the idea of creating a job market for artists who explored different techniques and experimented with new styles like abstraction and informalism starting in the mid-fifties. [For further reading, see in the ICAA digital archive “Relaciones de los artistas entre ellos-síntesis de las artes plásticas,” issued by the Grupo 8 (doc. no. 1233667)].