Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Synopsis

    In this text, Gyula Kosice describes his encounter with French composer Edgar Varese. Varese looks back to his origins to explain how his compositions developed. He mentions the influence of pianist and conductor Ferruccio Busoni, who encouraged him to liberate sound by taking it “beyond the limits of the tempered system and of tonality.” From then on, his aesthetic sound exploration required the creation of new instruments as well as means “that could be adjusted to a large range of combinations.”

     

    Verese speaks to Kosice of his interest in physics, which allowed him to examine how music moves through space at its own, often unpredictable, speed. He explains how, pursuant to Helmholtz’s experiments, he obtained “strokes of sound equivalent—in the visual realm—to parabolic and hyperbolic curves.” According to the composer, that marked the beginning of a new strain and a step towards the domain of instrumentation.

     

    The article contains a diagram of the sound sequence in “The electronic poem / Dernière page [Finale] de la séquence sonore du ‘poème électronique.’”

    Annotations

    Writer, poet, painter, and sculptor Gyula Kosice (1924–2016) is considered one of the most influential avant-garde artists in Latin American history. He contributed to the launching of the journal Arturo in 1944 and, that same year, he would be a key figure in the Movimiento de Arte Concreto-Invención in Argentina. In 1946, Kosice and other artists would found the Movimiento de Arte Madí [see in the ICAA digital archive by Gyula Kosice “Se reconocerá por Arte Madí...]” (doc. no. 732008)].

    In 1957, Kosice was awarded a grant from the French government that allowed him to travel around Europe and the United States, where he participated in group and solo shows. During that journey, the artist had the opportunity to converse with many art critics and to delve into the work of avant-garde European artists, writers, and poets. Over the course of 1959, Kosice would publish his accounts of those experiences in Buenos Aires-based newspaper La Nación. The articles were later compiled by Ediciones Losange and published as Geocultura de la Europa de Hoy.

    The book contains Gyula Kosice’s interviews with major figures from the European intellectual and artistic milieu, among them Jean Arp (doc. no. 1318752), Louis Aragon (doc. no. 1316036), 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 René (doc. no. 1318888), Nicolas Schöffer (doc. no. 1318905), Michel Seuphor (doc. no. 1318922), and Georges Vantongerloo (doc. no. 1318939). Kosice had hoped to interview Jean Paul Sartre, André Breton, Albert Camus, and Pablo Picasso as well, but those encounters never took place.

    Through criticism and interviews, Kosice’s Geocultura de la Europa de Hoy assessed the situation of art in Europe at the time. Louis Aragon had engaged in a similar undertaking one year before; in 1958, he published a series of conversations with artists under the title “Qu’est-ce que l’avant-garde en 1958?” [What is the avant-garde in 1958?] in the literary supplement Les Lettres françaises that he directed. That same year, philosopher and writer Michel Butor (1926–2016) would tackle the same issue in his essay “‘Géographie intellectuelle’ du monde” published in Le Figaro littéraire. Those texts, like Gyula Kosice’s, evidenced the need to re-assess the mission of the avant-garde movement in Europe and, in some sense, in Latin America as well, given the rise of new tendencies in art—mostly in the United States—like Abstract Expressionism and action-painting.