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The checklist of the retrospective exhibition of modern artists at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art] in 1935. Those who participated, with important works created since the 1920s, were Aquiles Badi, Héctor Basaldúa, Antonio Berni, Horacio Butler, Ramón Gómez Cornet, Emilio Pettoruti, and Lino Enea Spilimbergo


During the 1920s, the modernization of art in Argentina was in one of its principal stages. Subsequently, towards the end of the decade, there emerged those artists linked to the Martín Fierro journal—Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971), Xul Solar (1887–1963), and Norah Borges (1901–1998)—along with other artistic expressions: the actions by Alfredo Guttero (1882–1932) and the Artistas del Pueblo [Artists of the People] with their sociopolitical etchings. Most noticeable was the local activity by artists trained in Paris: Aquiles Badi (1894–1976), Horacio Butler (1897–1983), Héctor Basaldúa (1895–1976), Raquel Forner (1902–1988), Alfredo Bigati (1898–1964), Antonio Berni (1905–1981), and Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964).

In the early 1930s, a confrontation took place between those artists who defended political art, motivated with the arrival of David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) in 1933, whose key figures were both Berni and Spilimbergo; and those that stood for pure art based on a formal renovation: among them were Pettoruti, Butler, and the majority of artists trained under the Paris School parameters. Nonetheless, both circles regarded themselves as modern artists against academic naturalism.

The increasing force of nationalism during the 1930s demanded a change from communism’s policies of confrontation with other liberal, socialist, and democratic sectors, united to construct antifascist and antimilitarist alliances. This document presents the cultural response to the politics in a retrospective exhibition of “modern artists” presented as a retrospective. The purpose was to show the joint task carried out by these artists—who had been bitterly confronted just two years before—in order to implement artistic modernity from the 1920s on. Due to this common struggle, a manifesto justified a group introduction—more than a separation concerning questions of aesthetics and politics—as a defense of modernity. For the manifesto of this exhibition, see document no. 733845: “Manifiesto de 7 pintores argentinos” [Manifesto of 7 Argentinean Painters].

Roberto Amigo.
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Fundación Pettoruti.