The writer and intellectual Luis Oyarzún (1920–1972) discusses modern art in “La experiencia estética como expresión y creación de formas,” the essay he wrote in 1956. Omar Cofré, a former student and an expert on Oyarzún’s work, published “Aspectos claves del pensamiento estético de Luis Oyarzún” [see (775965) in the ICAA Digital Archive], which presents the writer’s thoughts on art and complements the views expressed in this essay.
Oyarzún studied philosophy and law simultaneously at the Universidad de Chile; he then specialized in aesthetics and art history in London. In 1944 he taught aesthetics at the Pedagógico, an institution that was affiliated with the Universidad de Chile in those days. In the late 1950s he was appointed dean of the Art department for three terms, eventually serving as vice-rector of the University.
Oyarzún published his first novel, La infancia (Childhood), when he was 20 years old; he then went on to produce books of prose poems: Las murallas del sueño (The Walls of Sleep, 1940), Poemas en prosa (Prose Poems, 1943), and Ver (To See, 1952), and the poetry anthologies Mediodía (Midday, 1958) and Alrededor (Around, 1963). In literary terms, he is considered a member of the Generación de 1938 (also known as the Generación de 1942), which addressed sociopolitical conditions in their works. He was a teacher and referent to the Generación de 1950 that challenged the local literary tradition, which was marked by criollismo. In the mid-1950s Oyarzún was the president of the Sociedad de Escritores de Chile (SECH), the writers’ association that is still active today. His book Defensa de la tierra (Defense of the Earth) was published posthumously in 1973, followed in 1981 by Meditaciones estéticas (Aesthetic Meditations), which included Cofré’s essay as an introduction. His work was rediscovered in 1990 after the publication of Diario íntimo (Personal Diary) by the academic Leonidas Morales (1937–2019), who described Oyarzún as an important referent in Chile’s autobiography.
Oyarzún also wrote literary and visual art criticism, mainly for Pro Arte magazine and the newspaper La Nación; his writings were compiled in the book Taken for a Ride. Escritura de paso (2006). [On the subject of his writings, see the following in the ICAA Digital Archive: “La pintura de Carlos Pedraza” (764894), “Notas sobre lo americano” (779076), and “Aspectos claves del pensamiento estético de Luis Oyarzún” (775965).]