Published in December 1946, Tratado de estética by Colombian poet and critic Luis Vidales (1900–1990) was a milestone in criticism in the forties not only in Colombia, but throughout the region. A number of authors celebrated the release of the book, and reviews and articles were published in the Colombian press, the most vehement of them by Guatemalan poet Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1901 or 1904–1992) [See “La verdad en el arte,” 1089477]. This prologue, which is signed September 10, 1945, explains the philosophical perspective and the methodology of the treatise, which is more than three hundred pages long. The book is divided into two parts, each of them dedicated to a different author. The first discusses the positivist aesthetics of French theorist Hippolyte Taine (1828–1893) and the second discusses Italian historian and idealist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1866–1952). At that time, both exercised considerable influence on aesthetic theories from Latin America.
Vidales’s approach to these two thinkers is critical, that is, he not only attempts to communicate their theories, but also to analyze and to refute a number of their basic arguments in an attempt to adapt them to Latin American thought. Thus, this text attempts to engage European influences from a local perspective. It is one of the first works to analyze art from a sociological point of view, though that became more common in subsequent decades as the formulations of thinkers like Pierre Francastel (1900–1970), a sociologist of art and literature, and Arnold Hauser (1892–1978), a Marxist, gained influence.