Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

With his manifesto, David Alfaro Siqueiros sought to position the avant-garde project anew, doing away with belated modernism and impressionism, in favor of Cubo-Futurist expressions and the incipient eruption of Dadaism. This eagerness for restriction had its counterpart in his proposal to accept an indigenous inheritance as a revitalizing element. In his judgment, Paul Cézanne was still the guiding figure. Regarding the quest for a pure art, Siqueiros emphatically declared: “¡Universalicémonos!, que nuestra natural fisonomía racional y local aparecerá en nuestra obra, inevitablemente”. [Let us become universal! so that our natural, rational and local physiognomy may inevitably appear in our work.]

Annotations

Although David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) distanced himself from fads such as "indianism," "primitivism," and "Americanism," his noteworthy and early manifesto of 1921 brought a more subtle means into play for rendering the native communities even more exotic: their capacity for synthesis of form. Siqueiros insists on the recuperation of racial elements, a problem that was very much alive in those countries that retained a strong native community that had survived the process of both conquest and assimilation. 

The city of Barcelona occupied a peripheral space in the European avant-garde, especially as compared to Paris. The art critic Raquel Tibol (1923-2008) circulated a document called "Tres llamamientos de orientación actual a los pintores y escultores de la nueva generación americana", [Three Appeals for the Current Guidance of the New Generation of American Painters and Sculptors]; it was published in the only issue of Vida Americana [American Life] (Barcelona, May 1921). Fragments of this manifesto were also published in other journals; complete versions were published in periodicals with more restricted printing runs. This declaration by Siqueiros is usually taken as the beginning of the post-revolutionary avant-garde in Mexico. (Regarding the manuscript version of this important text, see doc. no. 737428).

Researcher
Francisco Reyes Palma
Team
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Credit
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City, Mexico