Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Artist Gyula Kosice recounts his meeting with poet Louis Aragon in the [Les Lettres françaises] office located on the rue du Fg. Poissoniere in Paris. Kosice planned the meeting with Aragon—who was editor of the [aforementioned] literary magazine—in order to know the latter’s point of view on the concatenation of communism with abstract art. By way of introduction, Kosice reflects on the changes that the concept of art, the artistic medium, and the city of Paris had experienced since the “Surrealist revolution,” in which Aragon participated. Afterward, he describes Aragon’s simple office, in which hung the “dove” that in 1949 his friend Pablo Picasso had given him for the Congreso de la Paz [Conference for Peace]. During the interview, Aragon rejects the possibility of reconciling abstract art with militant Communist policy, and instead upholds the role of artists as socially engaged actors capable of promoting world peace.

    Annotations

    Gyula Kosice (1924–2016) was a writer, poet, painter, and sculptor who is considered one of the most influential artists of the avant-garde in Latin America. Among other accomplishments, in 1944, Kosice contributed to the launch of Arturo magazine and in that same year he also played a key role in the Arte Concreto-Invención movement in Argentina. In 1946, Kosice, along with other artists, founded the Arte Madí movement [see in the ICAA digital archive “Se reconocerá por Arte Madí...],” by Gyula Kosice (doc. no. 732008)].

    In 1957, the French government awarded Kosice a grant that allowed him to travel across a great part of Europe and the United States, where he presented multiple group and solo exhibitions. These travels provided the artist with opportunities to converse with numerous art critics, and delve into the work of artists, writers, and poets of the European avant-garde. Throughout 1959, Kosice wrote about these experiences in the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación. These articles were later published by Ediciones Losange under the title Geocultura de la Europa de Hoy [The Geoculture of Europe Today].

    The book includes the interviews that Gyula Kosice had with important personalities within European intellectual and artistic circles such as Jean Arp (doc. no. 1318752), Max Bill (doc. no. 1316654), André Bloc (doc. no. 1316654), Sonia Delaunay (doc. no. 1316736), Cesar Domela (doc. no. 1316751), Lucio Fontana (doc. no. 1316828), Emile Gilioli (doc. no. 1317009), Auguste Herbin (doc. no. 1316751), Richard Mortensen (doc. no. 1317455), Bruno Munari (doc. no. 1318737), Antoine Pevsner (doc. no. 1318871), Denise Rene (doc. no. 1318905), Nicolas Shoffer (doc. no. 1318905), Michel Seuphor (doc. no. 1318922), and Georges Vantongerloo (doc. no. 1318939). Kosice had also planned to interview Jean Paul Sartre, André Breton, Albert Camus, and Pablo Picasso, but these conversations did not take place.

    In Geocultura de la Europa de Hoy, Kosice used the interviews to evaluate the state of the arts in the Europe of that era, just as Louis Aragon had done the year before. In 1958, Aragon had published in Les Lettres françaises—of which he was editor—a series of conversations with some of the aforementioned artists under the title “Qu’est-ce que l’avant-garde en 1958?” [What is the avant-garde in 1958?] That same year philosopher and writer Michel Butor (1926–2016) would touch on the same theme in his essay “‘Geographie intelectualle’ du monde,” published in Le Figaro littéraire. These texts, including those by Gyula Kosice, demonstrated the need to re-evaluate the mission of the avant-garde movement in Europe and Latin America, given the rise and incorporation of new art trends, principally within the United States, such as Abstract Expressionism and action painting.