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In this article, critic Perán Erminy takes stock of Marta Traba’s controversial visit to Caracas in 1965, arriving at the conclusion that the resulting debate was “extremely positive.” As a Venezuelan, Erminy maintains a favorable view of her, and without analyzing the controversy too deeply, he relates the original elements of Traba’s argument. He also declares that her ideas prevailed and as proof he offers all the interventions made on her behalf both by artists as well as critics of the country in the final debate that occurred in the Ateneo of Caracas.
This text by Perán Erminy (1929–2018) is part of the controversy that occurred in Caracas based on the article by Marta Traba (1923–83), the Argentinean art critic based in Colombia, entitled “El arte latinoamericano: un falso apocalipsis,” published in the literary supplement of El Nacional newspaper (May 2, 1965). The controversy played out through September of that year in this weekly publication as well as in the Revista Nacional de Cultura. Traba was invited to give three talks at the Museo de Bellas Artes of Caracas, and there were also radio and television programs with a final debate held at the Ateneo of Caracas. In addition to Erminy and Traba, the major participants were philosophers J. R. Guillent Pérez and Ludovico Silva, painters Alirio Rodríguez and Alejandro Otero, and critic Roberto Guevara.
This text is a brief chronicle that testifies to the importance and impact of Marta Traba’s visit to Caracas. Like Guevara’s “Rigor y autenticidad” critique [see doc. no. 799462], the text is a chronicle and a critique; nevertheless, the difference between the two arises from the tone and opinions held by both authors. Erminy’s opinion of Traba, as a person and as an art critic, is definitively favorable except for one point at which he attributes some “conceptual weaknesses and methodological failures” to her. Guevara’s opinion, on the other hand, is an extremely harsh critique. As a scholar of folk art, it is understandable that Perán Erminy sympathizes with Traba’s theory because she identifies traditions, myths, ancestral images, and geography as primordial sources of art—and these are intrinsic elements of the folk imagination.
In this text, Erminy also mentions Roberto Matta’s visit to Caracas (1957) as constructive with regard to the creation of a climate of debate and controversy.
The articles that appeared in the literary supplement of El Nacional were compiled in the Colección Delta Solar as Modernidad y postmodernidad. Espacios y tiempos dentro del arte latinoamericano (Caracas: Museo Alejandro Otero, 2000). A selection of the documents that appeared in the Revista Nacional de Cultura was published in Roldán Esteva-Grillet, compiler, Fuentes documentales y críticas de las artes plásticas venezolanas. Siglos XIX y XX (Caracas: CDCH/UCV, Vol. II, 2001).
With respect to other texts about this controversy, see Alejandro Otero’s “Carta a Guillent Pérez, a propósito de limbos y apocalipsis” [doc. no. 798998].