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In this text, Regino E. Boti responds to the question that the editors of revista de avance posed to their readers: “What should American art be?” He specifically addresses each of the four sub-questions grouped under this larger question. In response to the first—“Do you believe that the American artist should reveal a preoccupation with America?”—he writes that yes he does, but that it must neither exclude human feeling, nor cosmopolitanism. To the second—“Do you believe that americanidad is a question of optics, of content, or of medium?”—he replies that it is a question of content. To the third—“Do you believe in the possibility of common characteristics shared by the art of all of the nations of our Americas?”—he replies negatively. Boti notes how the different political and social concerns of the various nations of America have engendered distinct forms of art, citing Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil as examples. To the last question—“What should the American artist’s attitude towards Europe be?”—Boti responds that, for the American artist, Europe sustains his work at its base, but that he must “end the cycle of imitation” by producing an art that is both indigenous and universal.
Regino E. Boti was a Cuban poet. His response to the question “What should American art be?” was published in revista de avance, a magazine based in Havana in 1929. Like Amauta (Lima), revista de avance was a forum where intellectuals living in various Latin American countries (and Europe and the United States) debated, among other topics, the question of nationalist qualities in art and literature. Like many of his peers, Boti does not call for the wholesale rejection of European art. Instead, he sees the Americas as a part of Europe, as the place where the outdated artistic traditions will be made relevant for the present and future. He sees clear distinctions between American nations, stressing the differences between Mexico and Argentina (which was common among his peers). Boti also stresses the social and cultural uniqueness of Brazil, noting how its landscape and its agricultural base have fostered distinct artistic forms.