Venezuela Painting Part II

By | December 16, 2021

Salas was also in Paris with a scholarship (1905); continuing the tradition, he studied with J.-P. Laurens and exhibited in official exhibitions; he went to Spain (1907-1908) following the painting of the Spaniards, Soroya, Mir and Zuloaga more than the French one. Salas’s works in Caracas can be found in the Casa de Bolívar, in the Panteón Nacional, in the Banco Central, in the Ministerio del Interior, in the Galería de Arte Nacional. His are El Tríptico de Bolívar, which he brought from Europe in 1911, El Milagro, La Fiesta Bretona, La Fiesta de San Genaro ; in the 1906 canvas Au bord de la mer (or Embarque de Papas) and in other works, in a modern way, with dense matter and broad brushstrokes, he eliminates detail, configuring characters, objects and landscape with flashes of light.

While Salas continued to paint the homeland epic and official portraits, the young people began to investigate more freely in native nature and everyday life, which Salas himself and other previous painters had sketched and which two unsuccessful artists had dealt with more explicitly: F. Sánchez (1882-1918) and F. Valdés (1877; presumed to have died in 1918).

Herrera Toro, first pupil of Tovar y Tovar, studied in Europe, Paris and Rome, from 1875 to 1879. Paced in balancing values, he made numerous, sober portraits (eg that of Eduardo Blanco). He painted the ceilings of the Municipal theaters of Valencia (1887) and Nacional of Caracas; he, assisted by C. Rojas, the Asunción de la Virgen of 1881, in the Cathedral of Caracas.

His influence was vast due to his work as an engraver, as a writer (Manchas Artísticas y Literarias, published in 1898), as a poet and journalist (in 1893 he founded the humorous publication El Granuja), but above all because he was director of the Academia de Bellas Artes, then working in the Escuela de Música: position assumed after the death of the other painter with whom he shared the honors of the time, EJ Mauri (1885-1908). For Venezuela 2016, please check

After the dictatorship of C. Castro in 1908, the government of JV Gómez began, many s’they deluded that the freedoms denied by the previous regime would be restored. In 1909 the students of the Academia de Bellas Artes presented to the Minister of the Instrucción Pública a request for innovations to be introduced in art studies; rejected this, they decided not to return to the classrooms. From them was born, in 1912, the Círculo de Bellas Artes, which in addition to painters, gathered and was frequented by other intellectuals. With great modesty he had created one of the cornerstones of Venezuelan culture of the twentieth century. Even if these painters only intuitively investigated the motifs and the national landscape trying to fix the dazzling light of the tropic and did not fully understand Impressionism, they carried out a revolutionary action in an environment indifferent to the autochthonous, where the art was officially followed to glorify homeland history. Through the Círculo, instead, a direct relationship was established with the public who began to buy works of art. L. Martínez and J. Semprum, with articles in newspapers and magazines, contribute a lot to the new initiative.

Among the founding painters of the Círculo were M. Cabré (1890), M. Vidal (1889-1943), P. Martínez (1885-1966), AE Monsanto (1890-1947); the latter, a man of vast culture, was one of the personalities who gave greater impetus to Círculo and to art in those years and in the following. A lover and connoisseur of Cézanne’s work, he painted little because he devoted part of his energy to teaching: in 1936 he was appointed director of the Escuela de Arte Plásticas. They were joined by F. Brandt (1878-1932), R. Monasterios (1884-1961), LA López Méndez (1901), A. Reverón (1889-1954).

Later, through the breach opened by Círculo, M. Castillo (1897-1966), C. Prieto (1882-1976), RR Gonzáles (1894-1975), PA Gonzáles (1901), EE Zuloaga (1900) continued; as well as F. Fernández (1900), T. Golding (1909), R. Moleiro (1903) and marginally C. Otero (1887-1977). In 1942 M. Cabré, then director of the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas, organized the exhibition of the Paisaje Venezolano, that is the one that had been baptized by the poet, essayist and critic E. Planchart (1894-1953), “La Escuela de Caracas “, which embraced initiators of the Círculo, and continuers of the native landscape.

The Romanian painter S. Mützner (1869-1958) exerted a notable and beneficial influence on the artists of the Círculo. E. Doggio (1857-1920) spent almost his entire life in Paris, with some trips to Italy; he participated with dedication in the activity of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, he was a friend of Pissarro, of H. Martin. A museum of his has been organized in Caracas.

From the Círculo rises one of the greatest Latin American painters, A. Reverón, who took the investigations on light begun by the Impressionists to the extreme: in the so-called “white period”, the most interesting of his production, the color is dissolved in the pure light, that is, in white. He studied in Caracas at the Academia de Bellas Artes in the Escuela de Artes y Oficicios in Barcelona and, in 1913, in the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. His friendship with the Russian decorator N. Ferdinandov (1886-1925), who arrived in Venezuela in 1919 and subjugated artists and writers, contributes to his formation as a man and artist. Mystic, suffering from psychic disorders, led a primitive life with his model and partner, J. Mota, in a hut called “El Castillete” (which has become a museum, preserves the painter’s objects). white, there is a previous blue one, finished around 1924, and a later sepia one, started around 1934. In the Galería de Arte Nacional in Caracas there is a room dedicated to him.

Starting with muralism, Mexico became the destination for many artists of the continent wishing to study it and to participate closely in its evolution. H. Poleo (1918) went there in 1937 and was, for a time, an excellent representative of a social realism that continued the work of the muralists; for the same reason, C. Rengifo (1915), G. Bracho (1915), B. Salazar (1917), P. León-Castro (1913) went to Mexico.

At the end of the forties we find the first steps of abstraction, which, in the geometric version, reigned in the fifties.

Manaure (1926), who began to work in the abstract field in Paris between 1948 and 1950, is an indispensable point of reference for the art of that period. Of the moment of transition towards abstraction, the series of Calaveras and Cafeteras by A. Otero (1921) remain memorable, the latter exhibited in the Museo de Bellas Artes in Caracas in 1949; Otero then began frantically to geometrize up to the highest synthesis of his pictorial thought, the series of Coloritmos (started in 1955), one of the high points of abstract art in America. Theorist, permanent researcher, Otero was one of the most ardent defenders of abstractionism; in 1957, on the occasion of the award ceremony of the XVIII Salón Oficial de Arte Venezolano, he supported by the newspaper El Nacional a long controversy with the writer M. Otero Silva who defended the opposite position, that is, the figurative one.

Venezuela Painting Part II