Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    In this essay, art critic and theoretician Juan Acha makes the claim that the main problem in Latin American art is the region’s inability to define its own aesthetic. Acha believes that the regional aesthetic model is inspired by foreign models and that high art in other technologically and industrially advanced nations has become popular in Latin America. He explains that Latin America’s Third World problems will inevitably have to be addressed, which will pave the way for a new aesthetic. Acha further explains his believing that there are two main contradictory perspectives concerning art and places. The first perspective is intellectualism, and he claims that all artistic problems are confined to Western parameters of art history and theory and that Third World’s artists are unable to respond to advanced social situations being created by “sophisticated industrialization, economic prosperity, and the mass media.” The second perspective is artistic subjectivism that he claims stifles the intellectual curiosity of the artist; but, Acha does not discount it and acknowledges that it has produced some work that is diametrically opposed to European and North American “tastes and dictates.” Acha concludes by stating that the only way to achieve a new aesthetic is to blend these two perspectives and at the same time apply a sociological approach. 

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    Juan Acha (1912-95) was a leading Latin American theoretician who was born in Peru and spent most of his early career writing for El Comercio the conservative paper under the aegis of the Miró-Quezada family in his native Lima. He moved to Mexico City in 1971. While in Mexico, he served as a contributor to various periodicals, such as Plural and Diorama de la Cultura. This essay was originally published in the winter of 1973 in Mexico City’s Artes Visuales, edited by Carla Stellweg. It was later reprinted in the compilation Ensayos y Ponencias Latinoamericanistas (1984).