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This is the second article by the writer César Miró about efforts to create an official image of Túpac Amaru II, the indigenous hero of Peruvian independence, to be used as an icon during the first phase of the self-styled Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas Peruanas (1968–75). The article was published after the cancellation of the Concurso Nacional de Escultura, the national sculpture competition that was organized to find a winning design for a statue of the Andean hero to be erected in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco. Miró claims that most of the submissions expressed “some uncertainty” as to whether the artist was expected to respect “a commitment to the medium or to a conservative approach (…), or to avoid any betrayal of the aesthetic sensibilities and standards of the times.” Miró compares the “canons of contemporary sculpture” to the historical spot where the monument was to be installed, and wonders whether a contemporary portrayal of the Andean rebel might clash with the colonial style of the “revered plaza.” He suggests using a Renaissance version of the Golden Rule when establishing the proportions of the figures in the monument, while keeping in mind the project’s relationship to the architecture of the plaza.


Despite his agreement with the cultural left wing on certain matters, the Peruvian writer César Miró (1907–99) came from a long line of intellectuals associated with El Comercio, the most traditional and influential newspaper in the country. His involvement in the discussions about the image of Túpac Amaru II is a clear example of the attention the subject attracted at all social levels. This article underscores the increasing concerns of the public about the difficulties involved in the competition that, like its successor, was cancelled. Several months later the third attempted competition awarded the prize to Álvaro Núñez Rebaza (b. 1944), but his design was eventually rejected on the grounds of its supposed abstract insinuations. The fourth attempt finally succeeded in having a design chosen that was submitted by the sculptor Joaquín Ugarte y Ugarte (1917–84)—of an equestrian statue, as noted by Miró in his article. The statue, however, was never installed in the Plaza de Armas, which was deemed by critics as too colonial for the subject, and so it was eventually erected in 1980 in a plaza that was created expressly for the purpose. There was an earlier article on this subject [see in the ICAA digital archive by César Miró “El rostro de José Gabriel” (doc. no. 1139165)].


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 creating pioneering social reforms and exploring the use of icons as symbolic expressions of the regime and its aims.


[As complementary reading about Túpac Amaru II, see the following articles in the archive: by General EP Felipe de la Barra “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” (doc. no. 865441); (unattributed) “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (doc. no. 1053438); (unattributed) “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (doc. no. 865422); by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” (doc. no. 865498); (unattributed) “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
Courtesy of Cesar David Miro-Quesada, Estate of Cesar Alfredo Miro-Quesada Bahamonde
Hemeroteca del Congreso de la República del Peru. Lima, Perú