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.
This essay is a continuation of the exiled artist, José Renau’s, reflections on the preeminence of realism over abstraction. He believes that in the years following World War I, the art trends were characterized by an unbridled exaltation of individualism. He emphasizes that after a century of “self-sufficiency and disdain for spiritual concerns, the capitalist bourgeoisie once again begins to take an interest in ideological, cultural and intellectual problems.” Nevertheless, for Renau, this does not mean that the works of poets and painters are characterized by greater social and political commitment since artists “continue to exalt the absolute independence of the creative spirit.”
José Renau (1907-82) was supposed to write three more essays on the subject of “abstraction and realism,” but the run of the magazine Nuestro Tiempo ended with this double edition. (It circulated once again in a second, more modest, incarnation a year later.) Thus we do not have Renau’s conclusions regarding the undoubtedly superior value he placed on realism over abstraction, which in this essay he judged to be one of the horsemen of the apocalypse: one in which the “bourgeois” spirit hysterically expresses the unrest of its desperate course toward the void. The ideals of Renau can be characterized as more radically political that those of the rest of the group of exiled artists. His style, clearly realist, found expression primarily in posters and murals. He denounced the atrocities of war through his famous photomontages and was interested in conveying an ideological message.
His first essay on this topic was published in the same magazine, Year 1, No. 1, July 1949. (See doc. 756512).