This is the fourth in the series of five articles published by Marta Traba (1923?83), the Argentinean art critic, who lived in Colombia, as part of the debate about the identity of Latin American art that was prompted in 1965 by the publication of her article “El arte latinoamericano: un falso apocalipsis” on May 2 in the Papel Literario supplement of El Nacional, the Caracas newspaper. This debate dragged on until September, with dueling articles appearing in this Sunday supplement and in the Revista Nacional de Cultura. As a result, Traba was invited to give three lectures at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Caracas, the controversy was featured on radio and television programs, and there was a final debate held at the Ateneo in Caracas. In addition to Traba, the other main participants in the debate were the painters Alirio Rodríguez and Alejandro Otero, the critics Roberto Guevara and Perán Erminy, and J. R. Guillent Pérez and Ludovico Silva, both of whom had trained as philosophers.
Traba’s article, “No me retiro,” is of interest because it provides a review, from her perspective, of the various facets of the controversy and its eventual results. As in the article by Perán Erminy (see “La visita positiva” ), Traba finds particular value in the lively, frank discussion that was held in the final debate. She wrote this article on her return to Bogotá after a brief visit to Caracas. In addition to claiming a decisive victory—which, in her opinion, was confirmed by the protests of many young artists—her review touches on other ideas (of a self-critical nature) concerning what critics should be at that point in time, in the mid-1960s. She acknowledges that she has radically changed the opinions she had ten years earlier, when she “believed that art criticism was conducted in the silence of libraries.” She now claims to have a new understanding of aesthetic phenomena, and believes that Latin American critics must be “aggressive,” as befits an underdeveloped culture. As an aside, and because they are exceptional talents, it should be noted that in this article Traba briefly refers to the Colombian Andrés de Santamaría and the Venezuelan Armando Reverón, both of whose works she had discussed in important studies.
The articles that appeared in the Papel Literario supplement of El Nacional newspaper were assembled into the Colección Delta Solar as Modernidad y postmodernidad. Espacios y tiempos dentro del arte latinoamericano (Caracas: Museo Alejandro Otero, 2000). A selection of the articles that appeared in the Revista Nacional de Cultura was published in Roldán Esteva-Grillet’s (Compiler) Fuentes documentales y críticas de las artes plásticas venezolanas. Siglos XIX y XX (Caracas, CDCH/UCV, Vol. II, 2001).