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    Algunos problemas acerca del arte abstracto en América Latina / Marta Traba
    Plástica : revista de arte contemporánea (Bogotá, Colombia). -- No. 7 (Jun.-Jul. 1957)
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Traba, Marta. "Algunos problemas acerca del arte abstracto en América Latina." Plástica: revista de arte contemporánea (Bogotá), 7 (June-July 1957): n.p.

In this article, Marta Traba sets out to provide an overview of abstract art in Latin America on the basis of problems common to the countries in the region. She asserts that the first of these problems is a lack of knowledge of the art produced in other countries in the region due to deficient forms of communication. She states that this makes it impossible to formulate a full overview of abstract art in Latin America, and that in Latin American countries, the only artists to be recognized and accepted by the general public are those who have been established for generations, and recognition of even these artists is recent. For avant-garde tendencies, this state of affairs means a fifty-year delay. In this article, Traba advocates doing away with geographic borders in terms of aesthetic expression. She asserts that in keeping with the natural evolution of history, modern man must embrace abstraction as the path toward universality. Traba adds that in Latin America, this process has come upon adversity because while the expressive power of abstraction’s language is diminishing [internationally], its pertinence is being debated regionally.



This article is important to understanding the early stage of the critical discourse of Marta Traba (1923–83), an Argentine art critic and historian who lived in Bogotá early on. Her ideas in these years were strongly influenced by the major theorists with whom she had come into contact while studying in Europe. Her writings from this period place emphasis on the formal values of art, and discuss the notion of “universality” understood as the specificity of artistic languages. This period encompasses the texts published from 1954 and the early sixties—when she began working as a critic in Colombia—until her first theoretical formulations after the Cuban revolution. 

The importance of this article lies in Traba’s assertion that modern art is specific to a particular historical moment, which is inescapably undergoing an exhaustion of its narrative . To make a significant contribution, Latin America must be aware of this important historical circumstance. In the model she proposes, aesthetic borders are eliminated to obtain the universality that is intrinsic to modern art. These convictions and reflections evidence the gap between the first and second stages of Traba’s critical thinking. Indeed, it seems that the ideas of the second stage contradict those of the first, insofar as what is later known as “the theory of resistance” makes use of an anti-universalist strategy by embracing marginality and rendering it meaningful.



Julián Serna
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Fernando Zalamea Traba, Bogotá, Colombia