The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this article, Miguel Otero Silva discusses the similar origins of abstraction in two painters who helped to inspire two major movements: the Russian (lyrical) artist Wassily Kandinsky and the Dutch (geometric) artist Piet Mondrian. Otero Silva associates the former with music and the Post-Impressionist Expressionism of Van Gogh; and the latter with Calvinism and a focus on science, Constructivism and mechanics, and a disregard for poetry. He acknowledges, however, that both branches identify with each other by “expressing painting via other media,” that is, through music and architecture, whose languages are of necessity abstract. He nonetheless considers the geometrical trend to be the dominant movement, as was apparent at the XVIII Salón Oficial de Arte Venezolano.
In the third article in his series “Conceptos concretos sobre el arte abstracto,” the writer and journalist Miguel Otero Silva (1908–85) explains the origins of the movement, indicating a clear preference for Kandinsky’s lyrical version over the Neoplasticism of Mondrian’s approach. Otero Silva goes on to critique the predominance of that Neoplasticism or geometric style among participants at the XVIII Salón Oficial de Arte Venezolano (1957) where, in his opinion, the only exception was Ángel Hurtado (Hans Hartung’s pupil). The author also regrets that Mateo Manaure has “folded his sails” in order to work in graphic design (“the field of typography” as he puts it). Unlike the painters César Rengifo and Pedro León Castro (staunch defenders of social realism), Otero Silva accepts certain aspects of the modern trend, but not the idea that abstract art should be subservient to architecture. This could be interpreted as an indirect criticism of artists who have worked with the architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva on his synthesis of the arts project at the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (1952–53), an undertaking that was identified at that time with the Marcos Pérez Jiménez (1952–58) military dictatorship. The debate between Miguel Otero Silva and Alejandro Otero Rodríguez was widely followed, and was reviewed in other countries (Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina); its importance is underscored by the number of times it has been published in Venezuela (1957, 1967, 1976, 1980, 1993, and 2001).
[For other articles by Miguel Otero Silva about this subject, see in the ICAA digital archive “I. Un relato necesario. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 855537); “II. Una división sin contenido plástico. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 855992); “IV. Ubicación social del abstraccionismo. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856031); “V. Sobre el mundo interior de los abstraccionistas. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856050); “VI. El regreso a lo funcional y lo decorativo. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856069); “VII. Formas nuevas y sinceridad. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856923); and “VIII. Orientaciones de una nueva pintura. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 8569442)].
[It all begins with the first reply by Miguel Otero Silva to Alejandro Otero entitled “Sobre unas declaraciones disidentes del pintor Alejandro Otero Rodríguez” (doc. no. 813737)].