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The anonymous author of this article contrasts the favorable response on the part of Peruvian intellectuals and artists to the work of Spanish artist Victorio Macho and their response to María Izquierdo, considered “ambassador of a hypothetical American native aesthetic.” The author argues that the two views are antagonistic, “since María Izquierdo’s good taste is relative and her disdain for the knowledge of anatomy [required of any worthy painter] glaring.” Nonetheless, the author does acknowledge that the Mexican painter has a distinctive artistic personality. Her visit to Peru provides an opportunity “to take a look at the so-lauded revolutionary painting of some Mexican artists.” The author asserts that Izquierdo’s work is “close to caricature,” which is of dubious aesthetic value; it is lacking in universal importance—the first thing required to found a “school”—because overly local. Hence, “so-called revolutionary art” is mostly unremarkable because “it contains so much falsehood.” Notwithstanding, the author asserts that, because “cholistas” [mestizo], the Mexicans “are far greater than the [Peruvian] Indianists.” Interest in racial themes and passion for social justice is pointless: “the further we are from Indianism in art, the closer we are to art [itself].” 


This text is an anonymous review of the exhibition of work by Mexican painter María Izquierdo held at the Peruvian North American Cultural Institute in Lima, Peru.


In mid-August 1944, María Izquierdo and her husband, fellow painter Raúl Uribe Castillo, arrived in Lima on a cultural mission organized by the Mexican Ministry of Public Education. Whereas the previous year David Alfaro Siqueiros had stayed only briefly in the Peruvian capital, giving a lecture in support of the Allies’ cause, a show of Izquierdo’s work was held at the Peruvian North American Cultural Institute in Lima. That show represented an opportunity to appreciate Mexican art through the work of one of its most outstanding figures—something that had not occurred in Peru since 1937, when a show of Ambassador Moisés Sáenz’s collection was held. Izquierdo’s visit coincided with the decline of Indianism: one year earlier, José Sabogal had been removed from the post of director of the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA), the most important center of art education in the country. While in Lima, the Mexican artist pointed out that Mexican muralism and Indianism partook of a similar “Americanist” attitude; both movements pursued an authentic local aesthetic without European influences. Insofar as the Izquierdo show represented a vindication of a nationalist agenda, intellectuals and artists close to the Indianist movement made efforts to promote it. Raúl María Pereira (1916–2007), the primary supporter of a cosmopolitan innovation of local art, reacted to Izquierdo’s radical work with reticence. While, in the modernist critic’s view, Izquierdo’s primitivist proposal was largely decorative and lacking the austere and formalist rigor of “pure art,” he did recognize the expressiveness of the works on exhibit.

Ricardo Kusunoki
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru