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Julio Rinaldini criticizes the leaflet with the manifesto of the Seven Artists (Antonio Berni, Lino Enea Spilimbergo, Horacio Butler, Ramón Goméz Cornet, Héctor Basaldúa, Aquiles Badi, and Emilio Pettoruti) who participated in the exhibition at the Asociación Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art Association]. Rinaldini considers that the key point of the artists, “the drama of a generation trying to express itself,” is not effective. They accepted an aesthetic truth, he ponders, so that an artistic allowed them to bridge a distance with the previous generation. He maintains that art criticism must be applied to the works made by active artists; that hierarchies are only upheld by time. The category “work of art”, states Rinaldini, depends on formal values generated by the artist’s will to express him or herself. Finally, he drops a hint that his critique on the Salón de Artistas Modernos [Modern Artists Salon], published in El Mundo [The World], was the reason to carry out this exhibition (see document no. 767941).


The modernization of art forms in Argentina had one of its main periods in the 1920s. Following the artists linked to the Martín Fierro journal—Emilio Pettoruti (1892–1971), Xul Solar (1887–1963) and Norah Borges (1901–98)—towards the end of the decade Alfredo Guttero’s (1882–1932) activities came to light,in addition to that of the Artistas del Pueblo [Artists of the Town] involved with social political engraving, and the local activity of the artists who trained in Paris: Aquiles Badi (1894–1976), Horacio Butler (1897–1983), Héctor Basaldúa (1895–1976), Raquel Forner (1902–88), Alfredo Bigati (1898–1964), Antonio Berni (1905–81) and Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964).

In the early 1930s, there was a confrontation between two poles. On the one hand, the artists who defended political art, driven in 1933 by the arrival of Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974); its key figures were Berni and Spilimbergo. On the other hand those who proposed the formal renewal of pure art; among them Emilio Pettoruti, Butler, and most of the artists trained at the so-called School of Paris. However, both circles shared the awareness of being modern artists in overt opposition with academic Naturalism.

The emergence of Nationalism during the 1930s changed the confrontational policies of Communism with the liberal, socialist, and democratic sectors in order to form antifascist and antimilitaristic alliances. This document presents the cultural response to this policy in a retrospective show of “modern artists” to point out the joint task carried out by these artists. Having been strongly opposed only two years before, they strove in tandem to impose artistic modernity since the 1920s. Therefore, a manifesto justified the joint presentation defending modernity, and beyond their differences regarding both aesthetic and political issues.

Julio Rinaldini (1890–1968), was a distinguished art critic and essayist of the first half of the 20th century, who wrote for the main journalistic media of Argentina, such as La Nación [The Nation] and El Mundo [The World]. He participated in the debates about modern art and, in a broader context, he defended culture from totalitarianism. In this sense he was a collaborator in Argentina Libre [Free Argentina], Cabalgata [Cavalcade] and Saber Vivir [Knowing How to Live]. 

For the manifesto of the modern artists in 1935, see document no. 733845; for the exhibition catalog, see document no. 733857. Also, for the critique of the modern artists by Julio Rinaldini in El Mundo [The World], published in May of 1935, see document no. 767941. 

Roberto Amigo.
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the Julio Rinaldini Estate, New York, NY
Fundación Splimbergo