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Referencing such Latin American nations as Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela, and the European nations of Spain and Italy, Venezuelan architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva examines certain artists and movements that in the aforementioned countries, have managed to combine diverse elements to achieve an “integración de las artes” [integration of the arts] in their works; he cites those he considers to be the greatest examples. He praises the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí as the best example of the traditional concept of a “síntesis de las artes [synthesis of the arts], describing his work as “admirable, única, extraordinaria” [admirable, unique, extraordinary]. He continues [his analysis] in Mexico with architect Juan O’Gorman, while also touching on the scope of the muralist movement, represented by artists such as Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros. He then considers the landscape work of Brazilian artist Roberto Burle-Max, and the Parque Rodó monument in Montevideo by Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres García.  Finally, he considers industrial design evolving within the integration of the arts, and cites examples such as the Olivetti conglomerate in Italy.


“La síntesis de las Artes: Europa Meridional y América Latina [Synthesis of the Arts: Southern Europe and Latin America], was a presentation delivered by Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1900–1975) for the Coloquio Internacional de Royaumont [International Colloquium of Royaumont], held at the Royaumont Abbey (France) on October 25–26, 1962. This colloquium was titled Liason entre les arts: L'Histoire d'une époque. 1890–1962 [Vínculo entre las Artes. Historia de una época 1890–1962] [Connections in the Arts: History of an Era, 1890–1962]. Villanueva was deeply connected to the concept of arts integration within architecture, and he was expressly invited to this event to write this text wherein he offers a brief summary of the best examples of arts integration in Latin America and Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, and Portugal). This document was published on different occasions during the ten years following in different printed sources, and it constitutes a text of exceptional historical value; it stands out among attempts to organize the concept of “integración de las artes” [arts integration] along theoretical lines. It clarifies the panorama of different experiments in the “síntesis artística” [synthesis of the arts] in modern culture. [The text] likewise shows the range of the Venezuelan architect’s knowledge, as he analyzes the different manifestations of “síntesis plástica” [arts synthesis], which are distinct from each other; to illustrate [these differences] he cites Gaudi’s architecture, Brazilian artist Burle-Marx’s landscapes, and the social commitment of the Mexican muralists. Villanueva also examines the Arts and Craft and Art Nouveau movements as the early and partially correct responses to the problem of the separation of the arts. In his speech, he highlights recurring ideas in his theory; among these, the necessary societal component of the arts, which can only be fully achieved through a true fusion [of the arts].  



[For a complementary reading on this topic, see the ICAA digital archive: the text “Los Artistas Extranjeros de la Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas” [The Foreign Artists of the Ciudad Universitaria of Caracas] by Guillermo Meneses, in which the author discusses the artists called together by Villanueva to participate in the arts integration Project proposed by the Ciudad Universitaria in Caracas (doc. no. 1060120); the text “Ciudades Universitarias México y Caracas” by Guillermo de Torre, in which the author examines the artists involved in Villanueva’s project in Caracas (doc. no. 1172362); the essay “Villanueva and the Uses of Arts: The Integration of Painting and Sculpture in His Architecture Constitutes a Unique Achievement of Our Period,” by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, in which the author examines the problem of arts integration and its relation to the architecture of the remaining artistic expressions (doc. no. 1172346); the essay “Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas: Una Síntesis de las Artes Plásticas” [Ciudad Universitaria of Caracas: A Synthesis of the Visual Arts], by Antonio Muiño Loureda, in which the author describes the different aspects of Villanueva’s project (doc. no. 864275); the essay “Un sueño hecho realidad” [A Dream Made Reality] by Víctor Vasarely, in which the author recalls the beginning of his collaboration with Villanueva on the Ciudad Universitaria project in Caracas (doc. no. 1172298); the text “Pintura y Escultura en la Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas” [Painting and Sculpture at the Ciudad Universitaria in Caracas] by Luis Navarro, a description of the participation of the artists involved in Villanueva’s project (doc. no. 864255); and finally the essay “Una Ciudad de todas las artes en Venezuela” [A City of All the Arts in Venezuela] by Sir John Rothenstein, in which the author discusses the architecture of Caracas and compares it to that of England (doc. no. 864294)].

Juan Carlos Azpurua
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Courtesy of Fundación Villanueva, Caracas Venezuela
Biblioteca de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Universidad Central de Venezuela