Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

In this article the head of the AIAPE, Juvenal Ortiz Saralegui, condemns the incompetence of the jurors who were appointed by the Ministerio de Instrucción Pública y Previsión Social to grant “artistic salaries.” In 1935 the jury that had been appointed directly by the Ministerio de Instrucción Pública y Previsión Social to award those salaries never managed to issue a unanimous decision due to absenteeism. This prompted harsh criticism from the author, who deplores the Ministry’s functional paralysis and its centralist vices regarding invitations to submit with no input whatsoever from artists. He discusses different events and the jury’s poor decisions. This article is of interest because it documents the actions taken by artists’ collectives, especially toward the AIAPE, in defense of the establishment of laws and art regulations. The appointment of juries by arbitrary decision of an authoritarian regime, with no input from artists, raised a red flag. The reaction to those events and attitudes led to increased mobilization after the creation of the Comisión Nacional de Bellas Artes and its organization of the Primer Salón Nacional in 1937.    

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Juvenal Ortiz Saralegui (1907–59) was a poet, journalist, anti-fascist political activist and supporter of the Second Spanish Republic, founding member of the AIAPE (Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores), and contributor to the magazine Alfar (La Coruña, from 1929), among other cultural and political activities in local circles. In this article he calls the situation a genuine scandal. He carefully lists several situations in his report, mentioning the endemic absenteeism among jurors and their indifference toward events that are considered of vital importance to artists in various fields, including literature, music, and the visual arts. These artists had expectations about the new law of financial incentives. The author deplores the jurors’ lack of sensitivity and ignorance about the artists’ works and their individual methods and techniques (which is what the “salary” was intended to assess) and condemns the practice of not awarding certain prizes. In response to the vast echo, Saralegui redoubled his criticism and broadcast it as a group announcement via the AIAPE (Agrupación de Intelectuales, Artistas, Periodistas y Escritores), the association he had belonged to since it was started in 1936. This situation shows that dialogue between the ideological and aesthetic positions of the great majority of artists had collapsed in response to government institutions that excluded them, thus putting any hopes of reconciliation increasingly beyond reach.      

Researcher
María Eugenia Grau, Gabriel Peluffo
Location
Archivo Joaquín Arozteguy