Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    These four questions that are presented to Carlos Prendez Saldías make up part of the survey for the Cuban magazine, Revista de Avance, all of which align with the bigger theme question of identity: “Que debe ser el arte Americano.” The first question is, “Do you believe that the American artist should reveal a preoccupation with America?” Saldías responds “Enough with wanting to reveal a deep human preoccupation. If the fruit has the taste of earth from which the tree has taken root, bland or tasteful, it carries out its message. But the artist grasps his tentacles on the unknown. I would almost say to infinity, if it weren’t such a catholic word.” The second question asked is “Do you believe that americanidad is a question of optics, of content, or of medium?” to which he responds, “I am not interested in that question.” The third question then asked is “Do you believe in the possibility of common characteristics shared by the art of all of the nations of our Americas?” Saldías says that he finds it difficult to believe that art will one day have common characteristics in America. They are only attainable, in vision and in production, by the arts of the criollistas. The fourth and final question is “What should the American artist’s attitude towards Europe be?” to which he answer, “The artist from America cannot adopt a posture in comparison to the European. Nor in front of the artistic works that come from there, nor the life that from that old world, but not expired, which overflows from our unsteady homeland. When the American artist makes a universal creation, will the European be nothing more than a tree in our scenery?”

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    Carlos Prendez Saldias was a Chilean writer, mostly known for his poetry, and is most of the time referred to as a great writer of romantic poetry. Described as having an eccentric personality, he is also known for publishing his works with different names of women. He was one of the twelve writers and artists that were asked to participate in this survey conducted by 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. In this answers that he provides for the magazine, he comes off as a bit arrogant and apathetic towards the questions themselves. In comparison with his companions, his answers are short, and to one question he expresses no interest in even answering it.

     

    [For additional interviews of this series, see the following digital ICAA documents: by Rufino Blanco Fombona (doc. No. 832186);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 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)].