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This newspaper article describes the formal characteristics and historical underpinnings of the project awarded at the Cuarto Concurso Nacional [Fourth National Contest], organized in order to erect a monument to José Gabriel Condorcanqui, Túpac Amaru II, indigenous forefather of Peruvian independence, in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, where he was executed. The article contains statements by sculptor Joaquín Ugarte y Ugarte, to whom the prize was awarded, and recounts the background of the project. Details of the work are described and its symbolism explained. The text reproduces the statement by Ugarte y Ugarte defending the equestrian image of the forefather, in which he upholds the work in terms of both historical accuracy and “popular sentiment.” Ugarte y Ugarte states that if “the people were asked how they would like his figure to be depicted in the monument,” they would undoubtedly respond “on horseback!”


This article documents the culminating chapter in one of the most controversial art competitions held in Peru in the seventies. The results of the three previous contests had been declared invalid; this fourth one was awarded to Joaquín Ugarte y Ugarte (1917–84), an academic sculptor who specialized in patriotic military monuments. The equestrian work he proposed was never erected in the Plaza de Armas; some argued that it was not in keeping with the colonial plaza and objected to the fact that the hero, Túpac Amaru II, had been tortured there and dismembered by four horses. Indeed, Decreto Ley 18280, issued on May 19, 1970 [on that subject, see in the ICAA digital archive “Declaran de interés nacional la erección de un monumento a Túpac Amaru en Plaza de Armas, Cuzco” (doc. no. 1139054)], creating the competition in order to place the figure of the indigenous forefather in the plaza, was never carried out. It was not until 1980 that the work was erected in a plaza specially constructed for that purpose. The decree also mandated that a portrait of Túpac Amaru II be placed in all the educational institutions in the country.


The first period of the so-called Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas (1968–75) was characterized by social reform and by an interest in symbolic representation. Its emblem was the figure of Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcanqui, 1738–81), a curaca or chief of Incan descent who, in 1780, led the most important Andean uprising against the Spanish empire, an event largely ignored in traditional Spanish-American historiography. Between 1970 and 1971, an art competition was held in order to obtain an official image of the indigenous hero, but was ultimately declared null and void.


[For further reading on Túpac Amaru II, see the following articles in the archive: by General EP Felipe de la Barra “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” (doc. no. 865441); (unsigned) “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (doc. no. 1053438); by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (doc. no. 865422), and “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” (doc. no. 865498); (unsigned) “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 865702); by Daniel Valcárcel “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1052165); and by A. O. Z. “Túpac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?” (doc. no. 865460)].

Daniel Contreras Medina, Gustavo Buntinx Armagno
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru