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 is Hans Platschek’s answer to a survey on abstract and nonfigurative art, in which he suggests that signs could be used for didactic goals. But he doesn’t agree with the terms “abstract” and “nonfigurative” because the former is art that draws its formal elements from reality, and the second generates confusion.
Sur [South] magazine, founded and financed by Victoria Ocampo (1890–1979), was one of the major literary journals in Argentina. It was published from 1931 until 1988, albeit occasionally on an irregular basis. The original group of contributors included writers such as Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986), Norah Borges (1901–98), Guillermo de Torre (1900–71), Oliverio Girondo (1890–1967), Leopoldo Marechal (1900–70), Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914–99), and Silvina Ocampo (1903–94), among others. The survey was based on the following questions: 1. Do you firmly believe that the term abstract art, which has been widely used until now, is improper and imprecise, and should now be replaced by the term nonfigurative art, but with the option of including, under the umbrella of this term, other names that might be used to identify more specific tendencies? 2. If not, what name would you suggest, based on the precision of its meaning and its chances of widespread acceptance? 3. In your opinion, what is the meaning and the future of nonfigurative art as related to representative art? In Buenos Aires, the survey was answered by Cayetano Córdoba Iturburu (1899–1977), Manuel Mujica Láinez (1910–84), Gyula Kosice (1924–2016), Juan Del Prete (1897–1987), and Tomás Maldonado (b. 1922). Some foreigners also responded: Mathias Goeritz (1915–90), Hans Platschek (1923–2000), Vicente Martín (1911–98), Ricardo Gullón (1908–91), Eduardo Westerdhal (1902–83), and Ángel Ferrant (1890–1961). The links to foreign artists were, to some extent, because of the friendship between Ángel Ferrant and Guillermo de Torre, but were also a result of their cultural activities at the Escuela de Altamira [School of Altamira] in Santillana del Mar, Spain. Hans Platschek was an artist, born in Berlin, who came to Montevideo in 1939 as a refugee from the Nazis and lived there until 1953. He was respected in Uruguay for his knowledge of modern art. He had several solo and group shows of his paintings, and was a critic and essayist with Clima and Ver y estimar, the Buenos Aires magazines. The survey took shape after the exchange of letters between Julio E Payró and Guillermo de Torre was published in Number 202 of Sur magazine in August 1951. That exchange, in turn, grew out of the reaction to Léon Degand’s exhibition Arte Abstracto, del arte figurativo al arte abstracto [Abstract Art: From Figurative Art to Abstract Art] in Buenos Aires in July 1949, and to de Torre’s prologue for Joaquín Torres García’s exhibition in April 1951. This document has been chosen because it indicates the Uruguay-based German artist’s position vis-à-vis the open debate over abstraction, and confirms the willingness shown by both Payró and de Torre to discuss the question in greater depth.