Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Pocaterra, José Rafael, 1889-1955
    Impresiones y comentarios : la exposición de Samys Mützner / José Rafael Pocaterra
    El Universal : Diario de la mañana (Caracas, Venezuela). -- Sep. 10, 1918
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    Pocaterra, José Rafael. "Impresiones y comentarios : la exposición de Samys Mützner." El Universal: Diario de la mañana (Caracas, Venezuela), September 10, 1918.

The Venezuelan writer José Rafael Pocaterra reviews his visit to the Romanian painter Samys Mützner’s exhibition at the Club Venezuela, in Caracas, in August 1918. Pocaterra describes the environment at the exhibition and provides a physical description of the artist, Mützner. As he writes, Pocaterra reflects on the difficulty involved in finding the right critical approach with which to review the works; he decides on what he refers to as a spontaneous one of his own and, finally, gets around to discussing the paintings. He is impressed with the foreign artist’s view of the tropics and the intensity of his colors, praising his command of vernacular concepts and his use of the landscape as his subject matter. He suggests that this is an example that Venezuelan artists should follow. 


In his review, the Venezuelan writer José Rafael Pocaterra (1889–1955) discusses the emergence of the Romanian painter Samys Mützner (1869–1958) in the Venezuelan visual arts scene. The influence of Mützner’s work in Venezuela could be described as a conceptual boost to the advancement of the goals proposed by the young landscape artists who had launched the modernist visual arts movement as part of their involvement with the Círculo de Bellas Artes (1912–19). In fact, the portrayal of the local landscape as an expression of the Venezuelan soul—which was unquestionably one of that group of young painters’ clearest ideas—was echoed and inspired by the Romanian artist’s landscapes painted in a post-Impressionist style. Toward the end of his review, Pocaterra’s heartfelt praise for the local content featured in Mützner’s painting underscores the fact that Venezuela artistic sensibilities are in urgent need of a nationalist form of expression of their own.


In addition to Mützner, the painter Emilio Boggio (1857–1920)—who was born in Venezuela but who trained as an artist and spent most of his professional life in France—and the Russian painter Nicolás Ferdinandov (1886–1925), both of whom were briefly in Venezuela, created a strange confluence of simultaneous foreign influences whose common denominator was their support for the Venezuelan landscape movement.   


At the time when this review was written, art criticism of the visual arts in Venezuela was in its infancy. It is therefore not surprising that newspapers in those days called on well-known writers to provide that particular service. This explains the tone and form of this article, in which the author’s fondness for narrative and language is clearly apparent, as is his desire to leave his critical evaluations to the end. It is interesting to note how the author ponders which critical approach to use, having already mentioned, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the problems involved in forced critical approaches, whether the review be condescending, pretentious, or learned. 

Josefina Manrique
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
José Rafael Pocaterra, 1918
Hemeroteca - Mapoteca Carlos Felice Cardot. Academia Nacional de la Historia. Palacio de las Academias. Av. Universidad, Esquina San Francisco, Caracas.