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This is the sleeve of the 45 RPM vinyl record on which the well-known poet and cultural critic Alejandro Romualdo recorded his most famous poem, Canto Coral a Túpac Amaru, que es la libertad. The cover art is a Pop version of a conventional image of Túpac Amaru II, the indigenous harbinger of independence. On the other side there is a black and white photograph of Romualdo standing in front of the poster for a Bauhaus retrospective exhibition. The sleeve includes the complete text of the poem and a brief biographical note about the author. Romualdo gives a reading of the original version of the poem on one side of the record; the Quechua version read by Teófilo Cárdenas is on the other side. The poem was translated by Rafael Aguilar.


Alejandro Romualdo (1926–2008), the Peruvian writer and member of the Communist Party, was also one of the best-known literary figures of the so-called “Generación del 50,” the generation of the fifties. He was a poet and a spirited art critic who evolved into the most vocal opponent of the nonfigurative movements. His Canto coral a Túpac Amaru was written in 1958, but became hugely popular in the late 1960s when it was clearly in sync with the political turmoil of the times. Artists and designers created a graphic image of the indigenous hero “wearing a hat” that reflects the political applications of the visual arts at the time, as in the case of this record sleeve, designed by Romualdo, who worked as a cartoonist and draftsman under the pseudonym Xanno.


José Gabriel Condorcanqui, Túpac Amaru II (1738–81), was an Inca chieftain who, in 1780 led the rebellion of the Andean people against the Spanish Empire. After languishing in the relative obscurity of traditional Peruvian historiography, his image was appropriated by the self-styled Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas during its first phase (1968–75), a time when the government was pioneering social reforms and exploring the use of icons as symbolic expressions of the regime and its aims.


[As complementary reading, see the following articles by Alejandro Romualdo in the ICAA digital archive: “Cuidado con la pintura. El arte por el arte abstracto: comentario al premio ‘Manuel Moncloa y Ordóñez’” (doc. no. 1227101); “Europa en punto: ¡ay de los abstractos!” (doc. no. 1137232); “Gran problema del arte peruano es la falta de críticos: ‘Xanno’. Alejandro Romualdo Valle agregó que los que escriben sobre arte son improvisados o huachafos” (doc. no. 1150928); “¿Hacia dónde va la pintura en el Perú? Primer Salón de Pintura” (doc. no. 1138900); “Ruiz Rosas y un arte integral” (doc. no. 1227027); “Servicio de inteligencia: contra toda clase de misterio” (doc. no. 1137249); “Servicio de inteligencia: lo universal y lo cosmopolita” (doc. no. 1137266); “Sobre el monumento a Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1139439); “Sobre un arte integral: punto final” (doc. no. 1227176); and “Sobre un arte integral (respuesta al arquitecto Luis Miró Quesada G.)” (doc. no. 1227139)].

Daniel Contreras Medina / Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Courtesy of a private archive, Lima, Peru