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  • ICAA Record ID
    Bernuy, Jorge, 1937-
    A propósito del premio a López Antay / Jorge Bernuy Guerrero
    Correo Nueva Era : Su diario de la mañana (Lima, Perú). -- Ene. 10, 1976
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Bernuy Guerrero, Jorge. "A propósito del premio a López Antay." Correo Nueva Era: Su diario de la mañana (Lima, Perú), January 10, 1976.

In this text, critic Jorge Bernuy points out that the decision to grant the Premio Nacional [award] to an altarpiece maker is unprecedented in Peru. He agrees that it is necessary to consider craftsmanship a cultural expression of the people, upholding its expressive value and placing it on the same level as other forms of artistic expression. He clarifies that it is not a question of underestimating “high art” produced by master Latin American artists, such as Emilio Pettoruti, Jesús Soto, Rufino Tamayo, and Joaquín Torres García. Nor should artistic expression—whether a work of “high” or “folk” art—be dismissed because part of a foreign tradition or tendency; “the artist or artisan will see to giving the work his particular stamp.” Bernuy proposes that separate prizes be awarded, one for visual art and one for craft; “the difference between the two forms of expression is vast,” he explains, which need not mean “dismissing the importance” of the latter or relegating it as a “minor art form.”


In this text, Peruvian painter and art critic Jorge Bernuy (b. 1939) reflects on the 1975 Premio Nacional de Cultura [award] granted to Andean altarpiece maker Joaquín López Antay (1897–1981).


The controversy led to a series of articles—such as this one—by intellectuals, artists, and journalists mostly in favor of the decision.


The decision to grant the 1975 Premio Nacional de Cultura [award] in the art category to Andean altarpiece maker Joaquín López Antay gave rise to one of the most heated polemics in the history of Peruvian art, one that brought the latent tensions and mistrust surrounding the cultural policies supported by the military government under General Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968–75) to the surface. In his search for an “authentic” national culture, he attempted to revalorize the image of the peasant and of peasant lifestyles as opposed to “Western” cultural forms. Indeed, granting the prize to López Antay meant ignoring widely recognized contenders such as visual artists Carlos Quízpez Asín (1900–83) and Teodoro Núñez Ureta (1912–88), and German-born academic musician Rodolfo Holzmann (1910–92).


[Regarding these events, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by Alfonso Castrillón, Leslie Lee, and Carlos Bernasconi “Fundamentación para el dictamen por mayoría simple a favor del artista popular Joaquín López Antay” (doc. no. 1135896); by Alfonso Bermúdez “Premio a López Antay suscita controversias. Unos: consagración del arte popular. Otros: una cosa es arte y otra artesanía” (doc. no. 1135879); by Francisco Abril de Vivero, Luis Cossío Marino, and Alberto Dávila “Artistas plásticos cuestionan premio” (doc. no. 1135960); and (unsigned) “‘No todos nos quieren ni en Lima ni en Ayacucho’: así comentó sobre cuestionamiento a premio (…)” (doc. no. 1135930)].

Gabriela Germaná Roquez
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Reproduced with permission of Jorge Bernuy, Lima, Perú