Enrique Lihn (1929–1988), the intellectual, writer, and art critic, played a key role in the field of writing about art in the late 1950s. In his early years, he took drawing and painting classes at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de la Universidad de Chile, but later gave up the visual arts and focused on writing. In 1965 he was the director of the Revista de Arte, published by the Universidad’s Facultad de Bellas Artes. Over the course of his career, he collaborated with several magazines, including Atenea, Cauce, and Apsi, and with the newspapers El Siglo, Las Últimas Noticias, and La Época. This text, written in 1963, discusses the philosophy of art. Lihn responds to the essay by the critic and academic Jorge Elliott (1916–1974) that appeared as an offprint of the Anales de la Universidad de Chile, where Lihn’s reply was also published. The art historian Ana María Risco (b. 1968) discusses the debate in “Sobre patologías en el arte: discusión con Jorge Elliot” [see (773343) in the ICAA Digital Archive]. In Risco’s view, the debate is useful because it contrasts two different sensitivities involved in the reception of art.
In his essay “Palabras para la inauguración de una pequeña muestra retrospectiva de pintura chilena” (750644), which was published in the Anales de la Universidad de Chile (1964), Lihn took a pedagogic approach, seeking to expose the public to the “non-figurative” art that dominated the art scene at the time, which, though it had been around for a decade, was still rejected or viewed with suspicion. Lihn preferred the term “non-figurative” to the more widely used “abstraction”; in his opinion, all art possesses an undeniable degree of abstraction.
Lihn wrote about a number of artists, including the painter Pedro Luna (1896–1956), whom he described as sensorial and sentimental. [On this subject, see the following in the ICAA Digital Archive: “Pedro Luna, el pintor” (doc. no 765294); he also wrote about Kafka y nosotros, the exhibition of paintings by Roser Bru (b. 1923) and about the photographer Paz Errázuriz (b. 1944), see “Paz Errázuriz y el tango” (773616).]