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International Yearbook of Futurism Studies

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Futurism and Ultraism: Identity and Hybridity in the Spanish Avant-garde

Leticia Pérez Alonso
Published Online: 2013-05-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/futur.2013.3.1.154


This essay argues for an interpretation of Ultraism as a case of hybridity that incorporated disparate avant-garde tendencies - Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Expressionism - in order to overcome the preceding modernista tradition. Although this vanguard movement never acquired a privileged position within European experimentalism, it possessed a thriving history in Latin America, where it took roots in the main capitals - Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Caracas, Santiago - and adopted new forms thanks to the efforts of Jorge Luis Borges and Guillermo de Torre. Particularly influenced by Futurist typography, the ultraístas utilized the potentialities of manifestos, articles and poems to bring about direct and immediate effects. This essay examines a series of poems by Guillermo de Torre, Xavier Boveda, Rafael Lasso de la Vega, Jorge Luis Borges and Volt in order to reflect on avant-garde cross-fertilizations and the impact of pictorial images on poetic language. Along these lines, the Spanish episode of Jorge Luis Borges and Norah Borges is a model case of artistic cross-disciplinarity. In an ekphrastic gesture, Norah Borges translated her brother’s prism aesthetics into plastic forms and, reciprocally, Jorge Luis Borges wrote poems based on his sister’s figurative art. Refusing to be confined to an isolated stance, Ultraism partook of migratory movements and exchanges, furthering extremely fertile alignments that conditioned its hybrid identity.

Keywords: : Cross-disciplinarity; cross-fertilizations between historical avantgardes; reception studies; Dada in Spain; Expressionism in Spain; visual poetry; word-image relationships; literary soirees (serate and veladas)

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Published Online: 2013-05-22

Published in Print: 2013-05-01

Citation Information: International Yearbook of Futurism Studies, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 154–180, ISSN (Online) 2192-029X, ISSN (Print) 2192-0281, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/futur.2013.3.1.154.

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