In 1954, Venezuelan painter Mateo Manaure (b. 1926) exhibited a set of collages at Galería Cuatro Vientos in Caracas—works that, in this text, French critic Gaston Diehl (1912–1999) praises on their own merits, not merely because they were produced in non-pictorial materials of the sort introduced by the early avant-gardes. These paper cutouts by Manaure were an important phase in the production of his murals for Ciudad Universitaria in Caracas. While studying in Paris from1947 to 1952, Manaure had come into contact with Surrealism and geometric abstraction; he formed part of the Los Disidentes group founded in Paris in 1950. Upon returning to Venezuela, he advocated the first show of abstract art in the country. He contributed a total of twenty-six works (murals, reliefs, and polychromes) to architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva’s project for Ciudad Universitaria in Caracas, which aimed to bring different art forms together. Diehl discusses the use of collage in the process of creating those later works on a public scale. The seed of those monumental forms paradoxically lay in small-scale works like the ones in this show. Diehl believes that preliminary sketches have the status of works of art; he sheds light on the method Manaure used in his projects for the Universidad Central of Venezuela. The critic then defends the modern use of new materials and recognizes the various phases of the creative process and the deep analytical roots of abstract works.
For other texts on Manaure’s work, see Víctor Guédez’s “La creación estético-visual en Mateo Manaure” (ICAA digital archive 1155531); Roberto Guevara’s texts “Manaure y la inmensa noche” (1156411), “Manaure: Columnas en tierras movedizas” (1155301), and “Manaure y las Cuvisiones” (1156459); Perán Erminy’s essay “Las imágenes poéticas de Manaure” (1156523); Alfredo Boulton’s “Mateo Manaure en el Museo de Bellas Artes” (1157497); Teresa Alvarenga’s article “Mi obra de hoy: Mateo Manaure llega a los 50 años” (1156427); Pedro Lhaya’s “Mateo Manaure o la autenticidad pictórica americana” (1156443); and “La Escuela de artes plásticas de frente y de perfil” (813569), a text by Manaure himself in which he provides a critical overview of the history of the Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Caracas.