After the publication of "Art in European Architecture", I received the Arnold W. Brunner scholarship award, presented by the Architectural League of New York, for the purpose of making a similar study of the integration of the arts in modern Latin American architecture. In conformity with the wishes expressed by the League, this book is the result of my extensive trip through Latin America and of the close personal and professional relations I have enjoyed with our Latin American artist and architect neighbors.
The subject of the integration of the arts as a Whole including its principles and possibilities, as well as the difficulties inherent in applying art to our machine-made architecture, was discussed at length in "Art in European Architecture" and will not le be taken up again here. Accordingly, the present work is not a general discussion, but a critical review of what has been done in this field in a particular geographical area.
Writing a book on any aspect of contemporary art or architecture is becoming a difficult and frustrating task. The media of mass communication are such that anything happening anywhere in either of these fields is spread around the world before it comes out of the artist's studio or the architect's office. Professional magazines, impelled by terrific competition, publish projects in their sketch form or in the early stages of construction--so early, in fact, that it is impossible to judge whether or not they are worth publishing. Niemeyer's sketches for Brasilia were known all over the world long before they had been definitely completed. Under these conditions, any book on art and architecture is bound to include many works that have already appeared in one magazine or another. Fortunately, it is not unlikely that the readers of this book receive so many magazines that they long ago gave up all desire to open any of them.
The examples of art and architecture shown here have been selected in accordance with two considerations. On the one hand, it was important to emphasize the more successful instances of integration of the arts. On the other hand, it was necessary to include examples which, because of their historical significance or the scope of their conception, could not be ignored. Owing to the difficulty of communication with certain Latin American countries, particularly Cuba, some notable examples of art in architecture have had to be omitted.
Since this study is concerned only with art as applied to architecture, several excellent artists are barely mentioned because their work is not related to architecture. For the same reason, some well-known architects who have not sought the collaboration of artists art not represented. At any rate the opinions expressed always have reference to specific cases of successful or unsuccessful collaboration between artists and architects. They are based on purely professional considerations and do not imply any lessening of my enthusiasm for the achievements of our Latin American colleagues or of my personal sympathy with Latin Americans in general.
Castellaras, January 1962