The letter written from Paris in 1948 by Alejandro Otero (1921−90) to his friend, the art critic, photographer and historian Alfredo Boulton (1908−95), was not only a personal letter—describing his daily routine as an artist, his pursuits as a collector, and his preparation regarding his two exhibitions, in Paris and in Caracas—but also gains relevance when the artist demonstrates his half-hearted attitude when confronted by his fellow countrymen (living in the French capital) with topics concerning the destiny and independence of Latin America. Experientially, these are all precursors to the theoretical posture that will characterize Otero regarding the visual arts, as an artist and throughout his lifetime: a universalist concept of art. It will be the same posture that Marta Traba, the Argentinean art critic living in Colombia, will emphatically denounce years later in her article “El arte latinoamericano: un falso apocalipsis” (1965). In the article, she accuses the generation of the early fifties, the geometric-abstract and kinetic Venezuelan artists of being victims, to some degree, to the mimicry of European art, turning their backs on the Latin American issues. It was the same group lead by Alejandro Otero himself and included famous artists like Jesús Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Díez, that would gain notoriety in the 1960s.
This letter belongs to the selection compiled by Ariel Jiménez, He vivido por los ojos: correspondencia Alejandro Otero-Alfredo Boulton, 1946-1974, for the Fundación Museo de Alejandro Otero (Caracas: Fundación Alberto Vollmer/Museo Alejandro Otero, 2001), under the auspices of the Alberto Vollmer Foundation.