Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Cisneros, Fernán, 1907-1979
    Homenajes : José Sabogal y la juventud
    Amauta: revista mensual de doctrina, literatura, arte, polémica (Lima, Perú). -- No. 19 (Nov.-Dic.,1928)
    p. 95-96
    Journal article – Essays

On the occasion of the party organized for José Sabogal by “young Peruvians in Buenos Aires,” the author notes the group’s obvious admiration for and acknowledgment of the artist, based on their shared feelings and ideals. The works of art exhibited in Buenos Aires “represent the painful experience of the Peruvian Indian in their expression of beauty. On this subject we are all agreed.” He also believes that the greatest triumph of modern art is the truth which, by all accounts, is deeply embedded in the Peruvian painter’s canvases. In the author’s opinion, Sabogal in a Latin American creator who happens to work in a specific country: Peru.


This anonymous article includes the speech given by the Peruvian intellectual and later diplomat Fernán Cisneros in honor of the founder of Peruvian indigenist painting, José Sabogal, on the occasion of his exhibition in Buenos Aires at the Sociedad Amigos del Arte in 1928. A Lima magazine reprinted the transcript that was originally published in Argentina stating that “the revolutionary youth (that is, the only true youth) fully supports José Sabogal and his art” and therefore published this speech whose words “we feel as though they were our own.”

Indigenist painting flourished in Peru from the 1920s to the 1940s as part of a broader movement that sought to redefine Peruvian identity in terms of indigenous elements. Although at some points it was entirely focused on the “indigenous” story and the glorious Inca past that also championed a mestizo identity portrayed as a result of the integration of “native” and “Hispanic” cultures. The main ideologue and unchallenged leader of the Indigenist movement in the visual arts was José Sabogal (1888–1956), whose profound interpretation of the concept of “being rooted” was deeply influenced by regional art movements in Spain (exemplified by Ignacio Zuloaga [1870–1945], among others) and in Argentina (Jorge Bermúdez [1883–1926], to mention just one); Sabogal spent a great deal of time in these countries during his formative years. When he returned to Peru in late 1918, he settled in Cuzco where he produced about forty oil paintings of people and scenes of the city; these works were subsequently shown in Lima (1919) at an exhibition that is considered the formal beginning of Indigenist painting in Peru. Sabogal’s second solo exhibition at the Casino Español (1921), established his reputation. He joined the faculty at the new Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1920, where he was eventually appointed director (1932–43). There he trained a group of painters who joined the Indigenist movement: Julia Codesido, Alicia Bustamante (1905–1968), Teresa Carvallo (1895–1988), Enrique Camino Brent (1909–1960), and Camilo Blas (1903–1985).

Sabogal returned to Cuzco from time to time in search of inspiration. In 1925, he spent several months there, making sketches for a set of works that he did not show in public until 1928, when he held two important exhibition, in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Before then, some critics and interested parties were able to see these works in Sabogal’s studio in Lima, and publish articles that, like this one by Eduardo Rebagliati, testified to the significant cultural and political interest that was being generated by indigenist works of art in certain local circles.

The author, Fernán Cisneros Diez Canseco, was the son of the journalist Luis Fernán Cisneros Bustamante (1882–1954), who was living in Buenos Aires at the time with his family, having been exiled by the dictatorial regime of Augusto B. Leguía. Fernán Cisneros senior was a member of the editorial board of the Buenos Aires newspaper La Nación, and later became a diplomat, as did his son. This speech was published in Amauta, a magazine in Lima that helped to communicate the views of the artistic as well as the political avant-garde in Peru and in certain other Latin American countries at the time. Sabogal contributed to several issues of the magazine, whose name he actually suggested, that was founded and directed by José Carlos Mariátegui.

[There are many articles about this artist in the ICAA digital archive, including the following written by Sabogal: “Arquitectura peruana: la casona arequipeña (doc. no. 1173340); “La cúpula en América” (doc. no. 1125912); “Mariano Florez, artista burilador de "mates" peruanos, murió en Huancayo: José Sabogal su admirador y amigo, le rinde homenaje” (doc. no. 1136695); “Los mates burilados y las estampas del pintor criollo Pancho Fierro” (doc. no. 1173400); “Los 'mates' y el yaraví” (doc. no. 1126008); “La pintura mexicana moderna” (doc. no. 1051636); and “Sala de arte popular peruano en el Museo de la Cultura : selecciones de arte” (doc. no. 1173418)].

Gabriela Germaná Roquez / Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru