Vicente Huidobro

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Vicente García-Huidobro
Vicente huidobro.jpg
Vicente Huidobro
BornVicente García-Huidobro Fernández
(1893-01-10)January 10, 1893
Santiago, Chile
DiedJanuary 2, 1948(1948-01-02) (aged 54)
Cartagena, Chile
Resting place Cartagena
Occupation Poet
Language Spanish
EducationColegio San Ignacio
Alma mater Universidad de Chile
PeriodTwentieth Century
Genre Poetry
Literary movement Creacionismo
Notable works Altazor
Notable awardsMunicipality of Santiago Prize ("El poliedro y el mar").

Municipality of Santiago Prize ("Poesía entera").
María Luisa Bombal Prize Viña del Mar Municipality.

National prize of Literature (


SpouseManuela Portales Bello (1912), Ximena Amunátegui, Raquel Señoret
Relatives María Luisa Fernández (mother)

Signature Vicente Huidobro.png

Vicente García-Huidobro Fernández (American Spanish:  [biˈsente ɣwiˈdoβɾo] ; January 10, 1893 January 2, 1948) was a Chilean poet born to an aristocratic family. He promoted the avant-garde literary movement in Chile and was the creator and greatest exponent of the literary movement called Creacionismo ("Creationism").

Chile Republic in South America

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best-born".

Avant-garde works that are experimental or innovative

The avant-garde are people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It may be characterized by nontraditional, aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability, and it may offer a critique of the relationship between producer and consumer.

Life and work

Early years

Huidobro was born into a wealthy family from Santiago, Chile. He spent his first years in Europe, and was educated by French and English governesses. Once his family was back in Chile, Vicente was enrolled at the Colegio San Ignacio, a Jesuit secondary school in Santiago, where he was expelled for wearing a ring that he claimed was a wedding ring.

In 1910 he studied literature at the Instituto Pedagogico of the University of Chile, but a good part of his knowledge of literature and poetry came from his mother, poet María Luisa Fernández Bascuñán. She used to host "tertulias" or salons in the family home, where sometimes up to 60 people came to talk and to listen to her talk about literature, with guests including members of the family, servants, maids and a dwarf. [1] Later, in 1912, she would help him financially and emotionally to publish his first magazine "Musa Joven" (Young Muse). [2]

University of Chile public university in Santiago, Chile

The University of Chile is a public university in Santiago, Chile. It was founded on November 19, 1842 and inaugurated on September 17, 1843. It is the oldest and the most prestigious in the country. It was established as the continuation of the former colonial Royal University of San Felipe (1738), and has a rich history in academic, scientific and social outreach. The university seeks to solve national and regional issues and to contribute to the development of Chile. It is recognized as one of the best universities Latin America for its leadership and innovation in science, technology, social sciences, and arts through the functions of creation, extension, teaching, and research.

María Luisa Fernández Bascuñán (1870–1938), also known as María Luisa Fernández de García Huidobro and by the literary pseudonym Monna Lissa, was a Chilean feminist writer, editor, and poet. She was the mother of poet Vicente Huidobro (1893–1948).

Salon (gathering) Social gathering

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate". Salons in the tradition of the French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries were carried on until as recently as the 1940s in urban settings.

In 1911 he published Ecos del alma (Echoes of the Soul), a work with modernist tones. The following year he married Manuela Portales Bello. In 1913 he published Canciones en la noche (Songs in the Night). [3] The book included some poems previously published in "Musa Joven" as well as his first calligram, "Triángulo armónico" ("Harmonic Triangle").

Modernism movement of art, culture and philosophy

Modernism is a philosophical movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the factors that shaped modernism were the development of modern industrial societies and the rapid growth of cities, followed then by reactions of horror to World War I. Modernism also rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and many modernists rejected religious belief.

Calligram poem, phrase, or word in which the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting is arranged in a way that creates a visual image

A calligram is text arranged in such a way that it forms a thematically related image. It can be a poem, a phrase, a portion of scripture, or a single word; the visual arrangement can rely on certain use of the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting, for instance along non-parallel and curved text lines, or in shaped paragraphs. The image created by the words illustrates the text by expressing visually what it says, or something closely associated; it can also, on purpose, show something contradictory with the text or otherwise misleading.

In 1913, along with Carlos Díaz Loyola (better known as Pablo de Rokha), he published three issues of the magazine Azul (Blue), and published both Canciones en la noche and La gruta del silencio (The Grotto of Silence). The next year, he gave a lecture, Non serviam , in which he reflected on his aesthetic vision. The same year, in "Pasando y Pasando" [4] (“Passing and Passing”), Vicente explained his religious doubts, earning himself the reproach of both his family and the Jesuits.

Pablo de Rokha Chilean writer

Pablo de Rokha was a Chilean poet. He won the Chilean Premio Nacional de Literatura in 1965 and is counted among the four greats of Chilean poetry, along with Pablo Neruda, Vicente Huidobro and Gabriela Mistral. He is considered an avant-garde poet and an influential figure in the poetry scene of his country.

Non serviam is Latin for "I will not serve". The phrase is generally attributed to Lucifer, who is said to have spoken these words to express rejection to serve God in the heavenly kingdom.

Aesthetics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of art, beauty, and taste

Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of art, beauty and taste and with the creation or appreciation of beauty.

The same year, he published "Las pagodas ocultas" (1916), [5] and signed it for the first time as Vicente Huidobro.

Move abroad

In 1916, he traveled to Buenos Aires with Teresa Wilms Montt, a young poet whom he had rescued from a convent. While in Buenos Aires, Huidobro outlined his creationism literary theory, later a literary movement, and published "El espejo de agua" (The Mirror of Water).

Also in 1916, he moved to Europe with his wife and children. While passing through Madrid, he met Rafael Cansino Assens, with whom he had exchanged letters since 1914.

He settled in Paris and published Adán (1916), a work that began his next phase of artistic development. Huidobro met and mixed with most of the Parisian avant garde of this period: Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Jacques Lipchitz, Francis Picabia, Joan Miró, Max Ernst, Paul Éluard, Amedeo Modigliani and Blaise Cendrars.

In 1917, he contributed to the magazine Nord-Sud edited by Pierre Reverdy, along with Guillaume Apollinaire, Tristan Tzara, Jean Cocteau, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Max Jacob, until a disagreement with Reverdy forced him to leave the magazine. That same year he published Horizon carré, including poems previously shown in "El espejo de agua" translated to French with the help of Juan Gris.

In October 1918, Huidobro traveled to Madrid, making the first in a series of annual trips to that city. There he shared both Creacionismo and his knowledge of the Parisian vanguard with the artistic elite. In Madrid, Vicente met with Robert and Sonia Delaunay, refugees in Spain, and resumed his friendship with Rafael Cansinos-Assens. He started the literary movement Ultraísmo , corresponded with Tristan Tzara and collaborated with him on his Dadaist magazine.

In 1919, he brought to Madrid a rough draft of the series of poems that would eventually become his masterpiece, Altazor . That same year, he took some science classes and became interested in esoteric subjects like astrology, alchemy, ancient Kabbalah among other forms of occultism.

While in Paris, he worked with Amédée Ozenfant and Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris) at L' Esprit Nóuveau, a magazine directed by Paul Dermée. There he also worked for the Spanish magazines "Grecia", "Cervantes", "Tableros" and "Ultra".

In the El Liberal, a Spanish newspaper, journalist and literary critic Enrique Gómez Carrillo published an interview with Pierre Reverdy where he accuses Huidobro of antedating the edition of "El espejo de agua" and claims that he himself created "creacionismo". Grecia magazine took Huidobro's side, and between August and September Huidobro traveled to Madrid to refute Gómez Carrillo's claims.

Triangulo Armonico his first calligram Triangulo armonico.svg
Triangulo Armonico his first calligram

Altazor and creacionismo

In 1921, Huidobro founded and edited an international art magazine, Creación (Creation), in Madrid. The magazine featured a Lipchitz sculpture and paintings by Georges Braque, Picasso, Juan Gris and Albert Gleizes. In November he printed a second issue in Paris, titled Création Revue d'Art. In December he presented his famous lecture, La Poesía (Poetry), which served as prologue to his works Temblor de Cielo (Tremor of Heaven), and "Saisons Choisies" (Chosen Seasons). [6]

The next year, Huidobro presented his theory of "Pure Creation" at "Branche Studio" in Paris, and then in Berlin and Stockholm.He wrote for the Polish magazine "Nowa Sztuka". In Paris, his "Painted poems" exhibition at the Théâtre Edouard VII was shut down for being too "disruptive".

In 1923, he published "Finis Britannia", a critique of the British empire, which provoked antipathy from the British and resulting in him receiving a postcard in support from Mahatma Gandhi. In 1924 he was -arguably- kidnapped for this reason, disappearing for three days. Later in an interview, he briefly commented that the perpetrators of the kidnap were two "Irish scouts" but refused to give more details. [7]

Huidobro continued with his diverse artistic activities in Europe, producing the third edition of "Création", where he published his "Manifeste peut-être" (Maybe Manifesto). Collaborator in this edition included Tristan Tzara, René Crevel, Juan Larrea and Erik Satie. He joined the French Masonic Lodge and met Spanish philosopher and writer Miguel de Unamuno, who was exiled in Paris at the time.

In 1925 he returned to Chile, where he edited and published "Acción. Diario de Purificación Nacional" (Action: Journal of National Purification) a political newspaper where he criticised the state and reported fraudulent activities. He was consequently assaulted and beaten outside his home and, on 21 November, the newspaper was shut down. He started another newspaper, "La reforma" (Reform), in a symbolic gesture, young supporters of the progressive party declared him as their candidate for president. A bomb was then set off outside of his house, though Huidobro escaped unharmed. While in Chile, he wrote for the publications "Andamios", "Panorama" and "Ariel" and published "Automne Régulier" (Regular Autumn) and "Tout à coup" (Suddenly).

In 1926 published a fragment of what would become the fourth canto of "Altazor" in "Panorama".

In 1927 he traveled to New York, where he met Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Gloria Swanson, wrote a script for a film of his novel "Cagliostro", [8] and wrote the "Canto a Lindbergh" (Song for Lindbergh) dedicated to aviator (Charles Lindbergh).

He returned to Europe by the late 1920s, where he began to write the novel, Mío Cid Campeador; he also continued his work on Altazor and began Temblor de Cielo (Tremor of Heaven). It was at this time that he discovered that he was heir to the Marquisate of Casa Real. He also participated in the Mandrágora, a Chilean surrealist movement founded in 1938. There was a scandal when he got married to Ximena Amunátegui in a Muslim ceremony.

In 1930, while in the Italian Alps, he wrote "La Proxima" (The Next), and published his poem "Chanson de I'oeuf et de l'infini" (Song of the Egg and Infinity) in the magazine "Revue Européenne" and a fragment of "Altazor", in French, in the June edition of "Transition".

In 1931, he went back to Madrid to publish "Altazor", where he attended Federico García Lorca’s poetry recital "Poet in New York" and started his friendship with Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres García. The same year he published "Portrait of a Paladin" and the English versions of his "Mío Cid Campeador", "Temblor de Cielo" and "Altazor".

Back to Chile

Huidobro went back to Chile in 1932, under the pressure of the Great Depression. In Chile, he published "Gilles de Raíz".

In 1933, he got involved with the Chilean communist party and published his article "Manifiesto a la juventud de Hispanoamérica" (Manifesto to the Youth of Hispano America) in Barcelona's "Europa" magazine, where he proposed the creation of a united republic formed of Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

In 1934 he wrote film reviews for Santiago magazines and newspapers, and published "La Próxima" (The Next) (Santiago, Walton); "Papá o el diario de Alicia Mir" (Father, or the diary of Alicia Mir) (Santiago, Walton), a novel written as a diary; and the play "En la Luna" (In the Moon) (Santiago, Ercilla). He founded the magazine Vital/Ombligo with Omar Cáceres and Eduardo Anguita.

In 1935 a young Volodia Teitelboim read a Rabindranath Tagore poem, similar to Poem 16 of Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair , Teitelboim mentioned this to Huidobro, and Huidobro accused Neruda of plagiarism. This would initiate a conflict between Neruda and Huidobro that later would involve Pablo de Rokha.

In 1936, along with Picasso, Arp, Kandinsky, and Robert and Sonia Delaunay among others, he signed the " Dimensionist Manifesto" [9]

In 1937, while in Spain supporting the republican cause, the conflict with Neruda resurfaced while Neruda was also supporting the republicans. The Parisian "Association Internationale des Ecrivains pour la Défense de la Culture", sending them a letter which called on them to change their attitude, signed by Tristan Tzara, Alejo Carpentier, César Vallejo and Juan Larrea, among others.

Once back in Chile, he published the prose poem "Fuera de aquí" (Out of Here), arguing against Italian fascism and the Italian military (who were visiting Chile at that time), as well as the poem "Gloria y Sangre" (Glory and Blood) in "Madre España: Homenaje de los poetas chilenos" (Mother Spain: Tribute of the Chilean poets). In 1938 his mother died, and he became part in the creation of the Chilean surrealist group La Mandrágora. The first meetings of the group took place in his home.

Last years

In 1942, Huidobro published the second editions of "Temblor de cielo", "Cagliostro" and "Mio Cid Campeador" in Santiago.

In 1944, he edited and published the first and last edition of "Actual", the final magazine he would create. In November of that year he traveled back to Europe and made a stop in Montevideo, Uruguay to give a lecture on "Introducción a la poesía" (Introduction to Poetry). In 1945 he went to Paris as a correspondent for “La Voz de América". In Paris, he received a letter from his wife Ximena informing him of her wish for a divorce. He entered Berlin (as a war correspondent) with the Allies. He was discharged and went back to Santiago with his third wife, Raquel Señoret.

In 1946 he settled in Cartagena, a seaside town in central Chile, and published a new edition of "Trois Nouvelles Exemplaires", with text written in collaboration with Jean Arp.

The following year he suffered a stroke attributed to his war wounds, and died on 2 January 1948, in his Cartagena house. According to his wishes, he was buried on a hill facing the sea. His eldest daughter Manuela and Eduardo Anguita wrote the epitaph: "Aquí yace el poeta Vicente Huidobro / Abrid la tumba / Al fondo de esta tumba se ve el mar". (Here lies the poet Vicente Huidobro / Open the tomb / At the bottom you can see the sea). That same year, Manuela published unedited texts and poems previously seen only in magazines. [10]

Huidobro wrote over thirty works, including books of poetry and poetic narrative, of which more than a dozen were published posthumously. [11]

Chilean poet Oscar Hahn & Maria Teresa Herreros board members of the Vicente Huidobro Foundation Hahn & Mra Teresa Herreros.jpg
Chilean poet Oscar Hahn & Maria Teresa Herreros board members of the Vicente Huidobro Foundation

Vicente Huidobro Museum and Foundation

The Vicente Huidobro Foundation was created in 1990, in order to preserve the poet's works. The foundation runs a research center and archive, which is open to researchers, students and general public. On 6 April 2013 Huidobro's house in Cartagena was converted into a museum, with help of funds from FONDART. The museum, which has six rooms and a floor space of 320 square metres, will be run by the Vicente Huidobro Foundation, and will showcase manuscripts, correspondence, first editions of Huidobro's works, photographs and his collection of African art, among other items. [12]


Poetry books. [13]

Ecos del alma (Santiago: Imprenta Chide, 1911); Canciones en la noche (Santiago: Imprenta Chile, 1913); La gruta de silencio (Santiago: Imprenta Chile, 1913); Las pagodas ocultas (Santiago: Imprenta Universitaría, 1914); Adán (Santiago: Imprenta Universitaría, 1916); El espejo de agua (Buenos Aires: Editorial Orión, 1916); Horizon Carré (Paris: Editions Paul Birault, 1917); Tour Eiffel (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Hallali (Madrid: Ediciones Jesús López, 1918); Ecuatorial (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Poemas articos (Madrid: Imprenta Pueyo, 1918); Saisons choisies (Paris: Editions Le Cible, 1921); Automne régulier (Paris: Editions Librairie de France, 1925); Tout a Coup (Paris: Editions Au Sans Pareil, 1925); Altazor: el viaje en paracaídas (Madrid: Campañía Iberoamericana de Publications, 1931); Temblor de Cielo (Madrid: Ediorial Plutarco, 1931); Ver y palpar (Santiago: Ediciones Ercilla, 1941); El ciudadano del Olvido (Santiago: Ediciones Ercilla, 1941); Antología de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Zig-Zag, 1945); Ultimos Poemas (Santiago: Talleres Gráficos Ahués Hnos, 1948); Poesías, edited with a prologue by Enrique Lihn (Havana: Casa de las Américas, 1968); Obras Completas de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Zig-Zag, 1964); Obras Completas de Vicente Huidobro (Santiago: Editorial Andres Bello, 1976)

English language translations

The Relativity of Spring: 13 poems translated from the French, translated by Michael Palmer and Geoffrey Young (Berkeley, California: Sand Dollar, 1976); The Selected Poetry of Vicente Huidobro, edited by David Guss (New York: New Directions, 1981); Althazor, translated by Eliot Weinberger (Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 1988); The Poet Is a Little God: Creationist Verse, translated by Jorge García-Gómez (Riverside, California: Xenos Books, 1990).

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  1. Vicente Huidobro Universidad de Chile SISIB Universidad de Chile Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Introducción a Vicente Huidobro, Federico Schopf
  2. Musa Joven – Memoria Chilea. Algunos derechos reservados – 2014
  3. Canciones en la noche 2014
  4. Pasando y pasando – Memoria Chilena. Algunos derechos reservados – 2014
  5. Las pagodas ocultas 2014
  6. Vicente Huidobro – Encyclopedia Britannica
  7. Interview, Paris 1924 "Fueron dos scouts irlandeses... Pero esto es cosa pasada" Alberto Rojas Giménez, 1924
  8. Cagliostro Memoria Chilena – Algunos derechos reservados – 2014
  9. The Dimensionist Manifesto The Dimensionist Manifesto. Charles Sirato, Paris, 1936
  10. "Huidobro and Parra: World-Class Antipoets" Huidobro and Parra: World-Class Antipoets Dave Oliphant retrieved on February 29, 2015
  11. Vicente Huidobro Biographie 2006, Green Integer retrieved on January 29, 2015
  12. Vicente Huidobro Museum Archived 2015-12-07 at the Wayback Machine . retrieved in January 2015
  13. Vicente Huidobro Biographie 2006, Green Integer retrieved on January 29, 2015


Finding aid for the Vicente Huidobro papers at the Getty Research Institute, contains a listing of materials and biographical information