We explain what ultraism was, how it originated and what its objectives were. In addition, its general characteristics and some examples.

What was Ultraism?

Ultraism was an avant-garde literary movement, originated in Spain in 1918 as an opposition to the traditional modernism that prevailed in Spanish letters since the end of the 19th century.

Although it incorporated some plastic artists into its ranks, it was an eminently literary and poetic movement, highly influenced by Italian Futurism and focused on valuing metaphor as the essence of literary writing .

Like many other avant-garde movements, it published several poetic magazines and grouped its members around the Café Colonial in Madrid, where a traveling gathering led by the Sevillian writer Rafael Cansinos Assens operated.

The core of the movement was made up of various local names , including the universal Argentine, Jorge Luis Borges , during his stay in Spain.

Name Ultraísmo

The prefix “ultra” for ultraism comes from the same Greek word that translates to “beyond” and is commonly used in the Spanish language, as in the case of Ultraism (“beyond the ocean”) or afterlife (“beyond Tomb").

He was chosen by the ultraists because they proposed, as they establish in their manifesto, to go beyond the prevailing Noucentisme and renew the literary structures with something new: “Our literature must be renewed; it must achieve its ultra as today our scientific and political thinking intends to achieve it ”.

Historical context of ultraism

Historical context of ultraism

Ultraism arises in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century due to the need to overcome the prevailing modernism since 1880, characterized by an almost narcissistic and aristocratic refinement, a cosmopolitan imaginary and a certain renewal determination of the metric.

That era witnessed the explosion of the so-called "first avant-gardes" , which consisted of renovating or disruptive positions in the artistic, literary, political and cultural.

They were great defenders of freedom of expression and artistic exploration, often overcoming the boundaries between expressive genres and making use of new methods, imaginaries and philosophies.

Main representatives of ultraism

Ultraism had a nucleus made up of Gerardo Diego, Pedro Garfias, Pedro Iglesias Caballero , Juan Larrea, Ernesto López-Parra, Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Guillermo de Torre and Isaac del Vando-Villar.

Other members were Jacobo Sureda, who was not exclusively committed to this movement, and through him his friend Jorge Luis Borges, who formally joined in 1921 and spread it in Argentina .

Ultraist magazines

Ultraist magazines

Ultraism had several magazines as official organs of dissemination, which were Grecia (Seville-Madrid, 1918-1920) and Vltra (Madrid, 1921-1922) . However, other magazines such as Afar (La Coruña), Reflector (Madrid), Ronsel (Vigo) and Horizonte (Madrid) were related to the movement.

In its Argentine variant, ultraísmo published the magazines Prisma (1921-1922) and Proa (1922-1923, first period) .

Ultraist manifesto

The manifesto of ultraism entitled “Ultra. A Manifesto of Literary Youth ” was first published in Cervantes magazine in 1918, when the movement was created, and was later reproduced in Grecia magazine .

It was signed by Xavier Bóveda, Guillermo de Torre, Fernando Iglesias, Edgar Eduardo, Pedro Iglesias Caballero, Pedro Garfias, J. Rivas Panedas and J. de Aroca.

In this manifesto , the guidelines pursued by ultraism are exposed in a programmatic way , defined as the "will for a new art that supplants the latest literary evolution: Noucentisme".

He also ends with a harangue : "Young people, let us break our withdrawal once and affirm our will to surpass the pioneers."

Goals of ultraism

Goals of ultraism

Jorge Luis Borges himself, in a text published in Buenos Aires in 1921, synthesizes the objectives of ultraism in:

  • A use of the metaphor as the body of the poem .
  • Erasure of dividing phrases, links and adjectives considered useless.
  • Abolish the "ornamental works" that were identified with modernism.
  • Shocking, disruptive poetic images that allude to technical and technological novelty .
  • Use of mathematical symbols and other typographic breaks.
  • Use of neologisms, technical words and esdrújulas words.
  • Elimination of rhyme and metrics, and a tendency to avoid personal and sentimental motivations .

Related artistic movements

Ultraism was greatly influenced by Futurism , whose greatest exponent was the Italian Marinetti, especially in his fervor for the machine and for technological advancement.

It was also very close to the creationism of Vicente Huidobro , whose particular poetics entailed enormous artistic freedom in the creation of the poem.

Argentine ultraism

Argentine ultraism

When Borges returned to Argentina , he brought ultraism with him and in Buenos Aires he created groups and magazines formally attached to the movement.

However, the American variant incorporated other trends that made it different from the peninsular, such as criollismo and parody of local culture, concerns that would accompany Borges even after he left the movement.

Ultraism in painting

Ultraism also had its variant in painting , influenced by Futurism and Cubism at the same time and its epicenter was the city of Seville (and some of the American continent ).

As well as its literary variant, pictorial ultraism opted for a break with 19th century motifs and inspirations and opted for daring, inharmonious forms.

Examples of ultraism

Some examples of ultraist poetry :

  • NIGHT - Juan Larrea

    The night has opened his umbrella

    It is

    raining The rain birds

    peck at the wheat in the puddles

    The trees sleep

    on one leg Fluttering

    , fluttering

    A car smashes

    its final hendecasyllable din

    A man crosses like a bad thought

    Water mosquitoes

    the lights fill the


    fluttering wings It

  • TOMORROW - Jorge Luis Borges

    The flags sang their colors

    and the wind is a bamboo stick in the hands

    The world grows like a light tree

    Drunk like a propeller

    the sun hits the target on the rooftops

    the sun with its spurs tears the mirrors

    Like a playing card my shadow

    has fallen face down on the road

    Above the sky flies

    and the birds soar like wandering nights.

    The morning comes to rest fresh on my back.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Passionate about understanding and contributing to a world that does not stop changing. New forms of Work, Sustainability and Technology. For many years he has worked as a creative for large international companies. He has a Ph.D. in information technology and he has been doing quantitative research in the interdisciplinary areas of information systems, cyber security, data analytics and artificial intelligence. He continue to look for creative solutions through technology to help companies to be more humane and sustainable..

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