The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
The author reflects on a comparison between abstraction and realism, presenting it as a grave problem of the era. For José Renau, the main trend of the “bourgeois” culture is based on the abstract and trivial aspect of intellectual creation. He is critical of the fact that as one extols the purity of art, one strips the canvas of its historical and human content, as well as its existence as the product of human labor, until it is at last rendered mere merchandise. Renau emphasizes the lack of coherence between “the relational, social processes between the subjective intentions of artists and the objective destiny of their works,” when these exist solely to be appreciated by a collector. Renau illustrates it through Picasso’s exemple.
Within the era’s controversy between abstraction and realism, José Renau (1907-1982) delivers a profound and well-documented essay on the risks of the commercialization of art. This work can be linked directly to the conflict that was then occurring between the Mexican School of Painting and new artistic trends. His position on abstraction versus realism had become polarized and contradictory given its rigidity in judging the former, for example, as a mere product of the market. Renau identified with the ideals of a socially committed art—especially that of David Alfaro Siqueiros—and he believed that artists had not always argued in such exclusive terms, and that they would not continue to do so in the future.
Renau was a painter, poster designer and muralist; when he came to Mexico, he worked for magazines and newspapers, and on the creation of murals. The second part of the article was published in Nuestro Tiempo, Year 1, Numbers 4-5 (September 1950). 25-36. (See doc. 756518).