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


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Ultraísmo / Jorge Luis Borges
    Nosotros (Buenos Aires, Argentina) . -- Vol. 39, no.151 (Dic. 1921)
    p. 466-471
    Journal article – Essays
    Borges, Jorge Luis. "Ultraísmo." Nosotros (Buenos Aires), vol. 39, no. 151 (December 1921): 466–471.

Jorge Luis Borges declared that the “newest aesthetic,” Ultraism, is the poetic alternative to “the prevailing Rubenism and Anecdotalism.” He remarked that one of the harbingers of these previous movements’ terminal state is that their own founders have moved away from what, at their beginnings, had signaled the development of these respective aesthetic modes—“developing isolated dissimilar works.” Borges notes the activity of other young artists who share with the ultraístas their tedium with “the close-mindedness of Rubenism,” and have “set out to rejuvenate the lyric through anecdotal rhymes and an expert disorder”; although, he added that this is an equivocation as well. In this way, Borges is presenting Ultraism as the only alternative. He goes on to present the Ultraist principles and distinguishes them from those of Rubenism as well as the rest of the contemporary literary vanguards. In this last part, the writer mentions those Ultraist poets and the publications that represent this new aesthetic.


This article, published in the same month of the same year as the first edition of Prisma. Revista mural —the first publication of Argentinean Ultraism in Buenos Aires—can be considered, together with the other text of Jorge Luis Borges published in El Diario Español under the title Ultraísmo, on October 23, 1921, as part of the public strategy implemented by Borges and the ultraístas. This group, consisting of Norah Lange, Norah Borges, Eduardo González Lanuza, Francisco Piñero, and Guillermo Juan, sought to spread the Ultraist aesthetic in Buenos Aires. Jorge Luis Borges, having participated in Spanish Ultraism together with his sister Norah, is significant in this context for introducing German Expressionism—through his translations of various German poets—and also as the theorist of the Ultraist movement. Upon his return to Argentina, he founded and led what is known as the first vanguard movement, positioning himself, consequently, as the movement’s primary theorist. The magazine Nosotros, started by Alfredo Bianchi and Roberto Giusti, was published from 1907 to 1943 and was one of the most important cultural publications in Argentina, besides having a broad circulation throughout Latin America. Beyond its popularity, Nosotros was an important space for the public legitimization of artists and writers. “Rubenism,” as termed in the text, refers to the end-of-the-century modernist aesthetic, whose most important representative was Rubén Darío (1867-1916).

Natalia Pineau
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Instituto de Literatura Argentina “Ricardo Rojas”. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Universidad de Buenos Aires.