10 Authors of Latin American Vanguardism Outstanding

David Holt

The authors of the Latin American avant-garde The most popular are César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza, Vicente Huidobro, Oliverio Girondo, Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, José Ortega y Gasset, Gonzalo Arango or Manuel Maples Arce.

The avant-garde is a French term originally used to describe “the main part of an advancing army or naval force” (Oxford English Dictionary Online-vanguard), but has been appropriated to indicate “new and experimental ideas and methods in art” Oxford English Dictionary Online-avant-garde).

From left to right: Jorge Luis Borges, Oliverio Girondo, José Ortega y Gasset

Latin American avant-garde art has a rich and colorful history that took place between the 19th and 20th centuries, and which is still often ignored by Western academia. It is characterized by an awareness and reaction to the turbulent and sometimes violent social and political history of the region..

Avant-garde artists consider themselves at the forefront of the limits of artistic practice, experimenting before the public is able to catch up..

They are not bound by the strict rules of academic realism that were so popular in the past and therefore have the luxury of depicting subjects that are not instantly recognizable..

Latin American avant-garde artists deserve the same level of acclaim accorded to western artists.

A key element of Latin American culture, which in turn is represented in his art, is hybridization. A mix of ethnicities come together to bring different elements, creating a rich and unique culture.

You may be interested 10 Very Representative Avant-garde Poems.

The main authors of avant-garde in Latin America

The large number of ethnic groups, cultures and experiences denies the possibility of a universal artistic style, so that all Latin American artists cannot be limited to a particular movement.

However, the Latin American avant-garde managed to bring together a large part of the artists and playwrights of the time..

1- Cesar Vallejo

[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Peruvian poet who in exile became an important voice of social change in Latin American literature, being an important part of the Latin American avant-garde movement.

Although he only published a triumvirate of poetic works, he is regarded as a great poetic inventor of the 20th century..

He was always one step ahead of the literary currents, each of his books being different from the others and, in its own sense, revolutionary.

2- Vicente Huidobro

See page for author [Public domain]

He was a Chilean poet, self-proclaimed father of the fleeting avant-garde movement known as Creationism.

Huidobro was a prominent figure in the post-WWI literary avant-garde. He worked both in Europe (Paris and Madrid) and in Chile, and made extensive efforts to present to his compatriots contemporary European innovations, especially French, in the form of poetry and images..

3- Oliverio Girondo

See page for author / Copyrighted free use

He was an Argentine poet. He was born in Buenos Aires into a relatively wealthy family, which allowed him to travel to Europe from a very young age, where he studied both in Paris and in England..

He is perhaps the most famous Latin American avant-garde for his participation in the magazines Proa, Prisma and Martín Fierro, which marked the beginning of ultraism, the first of the avant-garde movements that came to settle in Argentina..

4- Oswald de Andrade

Brazilian National Archives / Public domain

He was a Brazilian poet and polemicist. He was born and spent most of his life in São Paulo. Andrade was one of the founders of Brazilian modernism and a member of the Group of Five, along with Mário de Andrade, Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral and Menotti del Picchia. Participated in the Modern Art Week (Modern Art Week).

Andrade is also very important for his manifesto of critical Brazilian nationalism, Manifesto Manifesto, published 1928.

Their argument is that Brazil's history of “cannibalizing” other cultures is its greatest strength, while playing the primitivist interest of modernists in cannibalism as a presumed tribal rite.

Cannibalism becomes a way for Brazil to assert itself against post-colonial European cultural domination.

5- Mário de Andrade

Mario_de_andrade_1928.png: Michelle Rizzo (1869-1929) derivative work: Materialscientist / Public domain

He was a Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, historian, art critic, and photographer. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism, he virtually created modern Brazilian poetry with the publication of his Paulicéia Desvairada in 1922.

Andrade was the central figure in São Paulo's avant-garde movement for twenty years.

Trained as a musician and better known as a poet and novelist, Andrade personally participated in practically all disciplines related to modernism in São Paulo, becoming the national scholar of Brazil..

6- Jorge Luis Borges

Grete Stern / Public domain

He was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator, a key figure in Latin American literature. Borges's works have contributed to the philosophical literature and the fantasy genre.

His best known books, Ficciones (Ficciones) and El Aleph (Aleph), published in the 1940s, are compilations of stories interconnected by common themes, including dreams, mazes, libraries, mirrors, fictional writers, philosophy and religion.

7- Pablo Neruda

Neruda50 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

He was a Chilean poet, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Most of his works have been translated into many other languages.

Neruda became known as a poet when he was 10 years old. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called Neruda "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.".

Neruda wrote in a variety of styles, including surreal poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, an autobiography of prose, and passionate love poems such as those in his collection "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair" (1924 ).

Neruda often wrote in green ink, which was his personal symbol for desire and hope..

8- Omar Cáceres

Unknown author / Public domain

Considered a "cursed poet" for his mysterious life and death under strange circumstances, Cáceres represents the less pompous Chilean avant-garde. 

He was a literary critic in the press and many of his poems were published in anthologies of Chilean poetry. He also founded the magazine Vital / Ombligo together with Vicente Huidobro and Eduardo Anguita.

Idol defense (1934) was his only published work, a series of poems that generated a lot of impact among the writers of the time. Curiously, it was a work on the verge of disappearing, since the author himself was in charge of collecting all the published copies and destroying them. The reason was that the publisher had made many mistakes in editing.

9- Gonzalo Arango

Photo by Photo by Hernán Díaz. Extracted from gonzaloarango.com

He was a Colombian poet, journalist, and philosopher. During a repressive phase of the government in the 1940s, he led a literary movement known as Nothingness (Nothing-ism).

He and other young Colombian thinkers of his generation in the movement were inspired by Colombian philosopher Fernando González Ochoa.

10- Manuel Maples Arce

He was a Mexican poet, writer, art critic, lawyer, and diplomat, especially known as the founder of Estridentismo. He is considered one of the most relevant Latin American avant-garde of the 20th century.

11- Juan Carlos Onetti

Onetti was a Uruguayan writer who spent most of his career in Argentina and Spain, where he died. Rather dark and pessimistic in style, his work is pigeonholed into Latin American avant-garde and existentialism..

Short life (1950), The Shipyard (1961), Corpse board (1964) or Let the wind speak (1971) are some of the writings that have earned him such important distinctions as the Cervantes Prize (1980) or the National Prize for Literature of Uruguay (1985).

12- Luis Vidales

Image via http://luisantoniodevillena.es/

Vidales was one of the most notable authors that Colombia has had in the 20th century. Poet, critic and essayist, his most famous work is Bells ring (1926), possibly the only representative of the avant-garde in Colombia.

Although his style later led to other movements, the avant-garde is recognized in many of his pieces, and he is also a highly recognized writer by previously mentioned writers such as the Chilean Huidobro or the Argentine Borges. 

13- Alberto Hidalgo

Alberto Hidalgo was one of the poets who soon joined the Latin American avant-garde current. Although he is not as well known as other authors, his presence was vital for the development of this literary movement.

In fact, he participated together with Borges and Huidobro in the Index of New American Poetry (1926) and created the Oral Magazine, in which avant-garde animators met and orally developed a magazine.

Among his most important works are Simplism: Invented Poems (1925), The toads and other people (1927) or Lenin's location: poems from various sides (1926).

14- José Ortega y Gasset (Special mention)

See page for author / Public domain

He was a philosopher and humanist who greatly influenced the cultural and literary renaissance of Spain in the 20th century. Although he was not Latin American, this eminence was a student of the avant-garde of Latin America, so his legacy deserves to be mentioned.

He was a professor at the University of Madrid and founder of several publications, including the Western Magazine, that promoted the translation and commentary of key figures and trends in contemporary philosophy.


  1. Merlin H. Forster, Kenneth David Jackson. (1990). Vanguardism in Latin American Literature: An Annotated Bibliographical Guide. Google Books: Greenwood Press.
  2. González Viaña, Eduardo (2008). Vallejo in hell. Barcelona: Alfaqueque. ISBN 9788493627423.
  3. Chad W. Post (April 14, 2014). "2014 Best Translated Book Awards: Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  4. Jauregui, Carlos, A. "Antropofagia." Dictionary of Latin American Cultural Studies. Edited by Robert McKee Irwin and Mónica Szurmuk (eds.). Gainesville: The University Press of Florida (2012): 22-28.
  5. Foster, David, “Some Formal Types in the Poetry of Mário de Andrade,” Luso-Brazilian Review 2,2 (1965), 75-95.
  6. Borges, Jorge Luis, "Autobiographical Notes", The New Yorker, September 19, 1970.
  7. Pablo Neruda (1994). Late and posthumous poems, 1968-1974. Grove Press.

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