Art magazines and journals in Latin America
- María Amalia García
Magazines play an important role in the articulation and diffusion of cultural modernization programs in Latin America. From Martín Fierro, the 1920s Argentine magazine that became the avant-garde standard of excellence, to the emblematic Revista de Antropofagia Paulista, in which Oswald de Andrade’s “Manifiesto Antropófago” appears with vignettes and drawings by Tarsila, the vanguard of magazine publications projected Latin American artists’ aspirations to a transformed world.
Magazines had a key role in disseminating the aesthetic ideals of various artistic groups. For instance, there is a long list of magazines that could be deemed “constructivist” publications. A pioneering title, Círculo y Cuadrado, produced by Joaquín Torres-García (1874–1949) heralded a long series of publications that underscore the geometric universe and abstraction. Publications in this vein, espousing a particular ethos and style, were often short-lived. The paradigmatic case of this is Arturo: Revista de Artes Abstractas, which gathered artists and poets and brought about the debate about abstract art in Buenos Aires in the mid-1940s, even though it only produced a single issue, in 1944. Also noteworthy for the diffusion of abstraction was Los Disidentes. This magazine would also put out only a single edition in 1950 in Paris, in which it signaled the outbreak of Venezuelan abstract art and defied realist artists, artistic institutions, and critics.
Surrealist publications generally had a poetic or literary orientation. They often aimed to circulate—and in some cases to diverge from—André Breton’s beliefs and the Surrealist Manifesto. At almost the same time that Happenings began to be performed across Europe, Qué magazine appeared in Buenos Aires in 1928. Directed by Aldo Pellegrini (1903–1973) and Elías Piterbarg, both editors and collaborators of the serial experimented with automatic writing. Ten years after this first South American appearance of Surrealism, El Uso de la Palabra debuted as a single issue in Lima. Created by César Moro (1903–1956) and Emilio Adolfo Westphalen (1911–2011), the magazine was associated with a pioneering exhibition of Surrealist works held in Peru, in May 1935. Moro, an activist of the avant-garde scene in Peru, went into exile in Mexico in 1938. Excommunicated from the Bretonian circle for not sharing its orthodoxy, Moro collaborated with Dyn, a magazine published in Mexico by the artist Wolfgang Paalen (1905–1959) and mainly distributed in New York and London. Firmly rooted in the visual arts, Dyn was the cradle of a new sensibility that would propel Abstract Expressionism.
The content of avant-garde magazines was not solely aesthetic, but also political. Amauta is a key example of the nuance and dichotomous reading of the aesthetic avant-garde and political that is so deeply rooted in Latina American cultural studies. In 1926, José Carlos Mariátegui (1894–1930) launched Amauta in Peru. Its pages clearly reveal a willingness to embrace “the new,” both from an aesthetic point of view and in politics; and it thus tackled issues both local and universal. A product of the interaction between the visual and the textual, magazines have been able to consolidate and present definitive cultural moments of cultural life, in a way that few other forms of media have been able to distill.
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