Uruguay Arts and Architecture in the 20th and Early 21st Century

By | December 20, 2021

CM Herrera favored the opening of the Uruguay to modern art; he was founder and first director (1905) of the Círculo Fomento de Bellas Artes. There are influences of European movements, mainly French, with local connotations and regional motifs. P. Blanes Viale and M. Beretta contributed to the formation of planism, which became a national movement towards the 1930s. The Teseo Association was the driving force of this current, which expressed itself with large backgrounds of color; among the exponents, J. Cúneo (who signed himself Perinetti in subsequent abstract experiences) and C. de Arzadum. Cubist accents are found, at the end of the 1920s, in the works of C. Prevosti, C. Rivello, G. Bellini. Among the figurative painters, R. Barradas, R. Aguerre and A. De Simone. An important personality is P. Figari, university professor, politician, essayist: founder of the school of Artes y Oficios (later Universidad del Trabajo), he published Arte, Estética, Ideal (1912) and El arquitecto (1928), he painted works full of content social and local. After DA Siqueiros’ trip to Montevideo in 1933, he devoted himself to muralism N. Berdía. The first symptoms of autonomy in the field of sculpture are manifested in the use of local materials: JM Ferrari is the first major sculptor (Monument to the liberation army of General San Martín, 1914, Argentine mountains of Mendoza); we also remember JL Zorrilla de San Martín, J. Belloni and B. Michelena. With the creation of the Salón nacional de bellas artes (1937), the great exhibitions began and various groups of artists were formed. With J. Torres García, who returned from Europe in 1934, the search for the autochthonous finds synchrony with his constructive universalism (1944) in a synthesis of the concrete and abstract, of the pre-Columbian past and the contemporary. Many artists are trained in his Taller: his son Augusto, J. Gurvich, E. Ribeiro and his brother Alceu, JU Alpuy, G. Fonseca, painter and then sculptor. Also relevant in the area of ​​sculpture is the teaching of Torres García (Cosmic Monument, 1938, in the Rodó park in Montevideo). In abstract sculpture, with the experimentation of different materials work G. Cabrera, from 1946, and M. Freire, also active as a painter. E. Díaz Yepes and P. Serrano (in Uruguay 1933-54) are two artists of considerable importance. To a younger generation belong M. Rabellino and PC Costa, sculptors who continue in the abstract field; A. Alamán makes use of unconventional materials in figuration. The painters JP Costigliolo, pioneer of geometric abstractionism, A. Llorens, J. Verdié, A. Nieto, M. Espínola Gómez, A. Spósito, W. Barcalá, J. Damiani carry out research in abstraction, J. Gamarra, M. Mortarotti, L. Novoa who in the Club Atlético Cerro in Montevideo (started in 1962) combines painting, sculpture and architecture. In figurative painting, based on the tradition of local themes and motifs, LA Solari, A. Frasconi, who dedicates himself to xylography, C. Páez Vilaró, who has worked on Plac art (in the integration of the arts) since 1965. For Uruguay 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.

The years of the dictatorship (1973-84) brought about a slowdown in debate and research, which was then turned more freely to international trends, despite the persistence of regional connotations; many artists continued their work abroad. Among the students of Torres García we still remember F. Matto and C. Arden Quin (active in France); the sculptor W. Díaz Valdéz and the painter MA Battegazzore are also noteworthy. In Montevideo, in the gardens where the Libertad Building (seat of the presidency of the Republic) and the monument to Luis Battle Berres (1966, arch. R. Fresnedo Siri) are located is the Parque de esculturas (1996), with works by G. Fonseca, G. Cabrera, S. Pintos, F. Matto, the duo Silveira-Abbondanza (E. Silveira and J. Abbondanza).

The centralization of the population and national life in Montevideo means that the urban and architectural problems of the Uruguay the rationalist movement has in the architect M. Cravotto one of its popularizers and in the Plan reguladorof Montevideo (1930-39) the most significant experiment. An important personality is J. Vilamajó, for his neo-empirical research. From the 1950s to the rationalist school there was a tendency sensitive to new international research, influenced by FL Wright; among others, N. Bayardo (Northern Cemetery of Montevideo, 1962), E. Dieste (Church of Atlantida, 1958; Salto bus station, 1972; shopping center in Montevideo, 1982), M. Payssé Reíes (Banco de la Republíca, Punta del Este, 1962). The architectural and urban planning research of the last decades of the 20th century. and of the early years of the 21st century it was aimed at the recovery and conservation of historic plants, the increase of green areas and the construction of buildings according to functionalist criteria (Hospital Policial di HE Benech, M. Marzano, T. Sprechmann, A. Villaamil, 1975-83; Casa Estrázulas in Punta Ballena by HA Cagnoli, A. Valenti, A. Silva Montero, 1982) or the design derived from the languages ​​and technological research of the 1980s and 1990s (CA Ott, Torre delle Telecomunicazioni, Montevideo, 2002; etc.).

Uruguay Arts 21st Century