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In this essay that originated from within the C.T.I.U. (Confederación de Trabajadores Intelectuales del Uruguay), the case was taken of a “sample of aspirants to artistic wages in 1933” with the intent to demonstrate the crisis in the quality of the art work that was being produced, especially by those who represent the “bourgeois art” of the time. The political content of this critique was drawn from the magazine Movimiento (that was responding to the Soviet directives emanating from the Communist International) seeking to strengthen and emphasize a movement toward “social realism” among the Uruguayan artists of the 1930s. According to this article, the artistic survey was going through a period of decline and decadence resulting from the capitalistic crisis (starting in 1929), which led the author to believe that the answer must be that of “social realism” at any cost, which would establish a commitment by the artists to politically leftist movements.


The Uruguayan journalist Juan Cristóbal outlines the critical situation faced by “bourgeois art” at the time and used as an example the “exhibition that took place at the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Montevideo in 1933 by artists who were aspiring to artistic wages.” Artistic wages were scholarship grants that were provided as an incentive approved in 1930 by the government of Uruguay to those artists who had had an outstanding record the previous year. Cristóbal made a generalized critique about those Uruguayan artists who acquired their training at the École de Paris, including José Cuneo (1897-1977), referring to them as “bourgeois artists.” Most notably, the author directed his critique toward the conservative curator Carlos Aliseris (1898-1974) and his promotion of landscape art suggesting the existence of favoritism toward artists who had political preference from the government under the dictatorship of Gabriel Terra, who assumed power by a coup d’état in March 1933. It should not be forgotten that this was the year of the visit by David Alfaro Siqueiros to Montevideo. The Mexican artist had come to reinforce a strategic sense of direction between intellectuals and artists. The year 1933 also marked the establishment of the C.T.I.U. (Confederación de Trabajadores Intelectuales del Uruguay), a confederation consisting of working class intellectuals from Uruguay. This article was not an appeal for a technical or formal reformation—as was initially intended by the inception of the Círculo de Bellas Artes and Siqueiros to paint murals via the use of mechanical devices—but instead was an appeal for thematic reformation. A reformation through which art and sculpture should be in service of daily problems experienced by the population and their social struggles.

Marina García y Gabriel Peluffo
Archivo Biblioteca Nacional Uruguay