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, the writer Miguel Otero Silva criticizes the functional nature that abstract artists try to give their work by the subordination of them to the decorative whims of architecture. According to the author, this brings painting down to the level of the applied arts, whereas ever since the Italian Renaissance (and Giotto), painting has been on the road to autonomy. Otero Silva says this idea (whose modernity he denies) can be traced back to Piet Mondrian, whom he describes as an architect who became a painter. The author explains that this kind of subordination drags painting back to the Middle Ages.
In his sixth article in the “Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” series, Miguel Otero Silva (1908–85) disputes the right of so-called modernity to subjugate painting to architecture, which explains why the architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva (promoter of the synthesis of the arts at the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, 1952–53) likes this kind of art. The article oozes animosity toward Neoplasticism, as personified by Piet Mondrian, while Otero Silva defends “abstract painting” inspired by Paul Cézanne, Picasso, or Fernand Léger. Perhaps the example used to personify the beginning of the liberation of painting from being “complementary to architecture”—Giotto—was an unfortunate choice; however, his defense of painting as a value in and of itself suggests an admirer of the Western tradition (a collector, as Otero Silva was), who is tolerant of the avant-gardes as long as they kept their distance from “scientific abstraction.” Otero Silva’s debate with the painter Alejandro Otero was widely followed once the generation of artists who had been invited to the synthesis of the arts returned to the Salón Oficial de Arte Venezolano. Furthermore, Caracas residents saw it at a prestigious venue: the Museo de Bellas Artes. The text of the debate between Miguel Otero Silva and Alejandro Otero Rodríguez was printed and published by the Ministerio de Educación Nacional (1957). It was widely read and was reviewed abroad (in Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina); its importance is endorsed by the number of times it has been published in Venezuela (1967, 1976, 1980, 1993, and 2001).
[For other articles by Miguel Otero Silva on 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 sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 855992); “III. Aparición y desarrollo del abstraccionismo. Conceptos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856012); “IV. Ubicación social del abstraccionismo. Conceptos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856031); “V. Sobre el mundo interior de los abstraccionistas. Conceptos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856050); VII. Formas nuevas y sinceridad. Conceptos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856923); and “VIII. Orientaciones de una nueva pintura. Conceptos concretos sobre la pintura abstracta” (doc. no. 856942)].
[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)].