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


Document first page thumbnail
    Editorial Categories [?]

    In this brief interview with Rufino Blanco Fombona in the Cuban magazine, Revista de Avance, he is presented with the 4 specific survey questions that support the larger theme question of identity, “Que debe ser el arte Americano?” (What should be considered American Art). Fombona then addresses each question separately, and the answers are numbered so that the reader can follow. To the first question “Do you believe that the American artist should reveal a preoccupation with America?” he responds that he believes that the American artist should reveal a concern in an American inspiration in their work. (He also states how he isn’t addressing the “yankees” while mentioning America). To the second question, “Do you believe that americanidad is a question of optics, of content, or of medium?” Fombona says that he believes that the literal meaning of americanidad is a question of knowing how to see, how to feel, knowing how to meditate and how to successfully express it, but most importantly, like in everything, to be sincere. The third question is, “Do you believe in the possibility of common characteristics shared by the art of all of the nations of our Americas?” to which Fombona responds yes. There are common characteristics in literature and, in general, in the art of the different towns of hispanoamericanos, and that within a big, and fortunate, variety, he says. He then continues to explain that he who knows how to read, does not confuse an American book, wherever it is from, with another book that is not from America. “I speak, of course, of books and authors of excellence.” That last question “What should the American artist’s attitude towards Europe be?” Fombona responds – The attitude of the American artist in regards to everything European must be a profound contempt for everything that is despicable, indifference for what deserves it, and study, respect and admiration for what is worthy of such sentiments.


    Rufino Blanco Fombona was a Venezuelan writer, editor and diplomat. He is mostly associated with the modern literary movement, although later he would lean more towards postmodernism. His responses to the question “What should American art be?” were 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. His views on European art are a like that of his peers, not rejecting it completely but also not fully accepting it. He believes that what deserves respect and attention should merit it, unlike art or literature that does not.

    [For additional interviews of this series, see the following digital ICAA documents: by Alfonso Hernández Catá (doc. no. 832204); by Carlos Montenegro (doc. no. 832240); by Jaime Torres Bodet (doc. no. 832061); by Luis Felipe Rodriguez (doc. no. 832222); by Carlos Prendez Saldias (doc. no. 832258); by Carlos Enríquez (doc. no. 832163); by Eduardo Abela (doc. no. 832077); by Eduardo Avilés Ramírez (doc. no. 832146); by José Antonio Ramos (doc. no. 832276); by Raúl Roa (doc. no. 832346); by Regino E. Boti (doc. no. 832100)].