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This document reports on the prohibition of David Alfaro Siqueiros’s third lecture at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art Association] in Buenos Aires. The article mentions the part played by writer Victoria Ocampo. It also discusses the content of the first two lectures given by the muralist on the movement involved with monumental painting taking place in both Mexico and Los Angeles. Siqueiros’s words are presented as a new path to be followed by Argentinean artists.
Having been expelled from the United States, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) traveled to Montevideo in February of 1933, and by the end of May in that same year he had established himself in Buenos Aires. In the River Plate, Siqueiros experimented with technique and presented arguments based on the contents of his lecture Los vehículos de la pintura dialéctico-subversiva [The Vehicles of Dialectical-Subversive Painting], which he had developed while in the United States. In June he exhibited in Buenos Aires at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art], a liberal and modernizing arts institution. He gave controversial lectures that polarized the arts field into the defenders of “arte puro” [“pure art”] and “arte político” [“political art”]. He was supported by Contra. La revista de los francotiradores [Against: The Snipers’ Magazine], run by the leftist writer Raúl González Tuñón [see documents 733230, 733314, and 733270, among others]. Siqueiros collaborated on the newspaper Crítica [Critique], run by Natalio Botana. Botana commissioned Siqueiros to paint a mural in the cellar of his house, Quinta Los Granados, in Don Torcuato, in the Province of Buenos Aires. The Equipo Poligráfico Ejecutor [Lead Polygraphic Team]—formed by Siqueiros, Antonio Berni (1905–1981), Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964), Juan Carlos Castagnino (1908–1972), and the Uruguyan set-designer Enrique Lázaro—created Ejericio Plástico [Visual Exercise], with distorted nudes over the curved surface of the vaulted ceiling, by means of photographic projection. It was conceived as a fresco on cement, using such technical innovations as application by mechanical tools and the use of industrial silicates. In December 1933, sketches and photographs of the mural were exhibited in the magazine Signo [Sign] premises. Currently the work is in storage due to litigation; damage may affect its conservation. Argentinean right-wingers strongly attacked the Mexican Communist painter within its publications Bandera Argentina [Argentinean Flag] and Crisol [Melting pot], which were representative of the Catholic nationalism that had gained momentum since the military coup of 1930. This document and others published in Crítica demonstrate both the content of Siqueiros’s lectures in Buenos Aires as well as the impact they had within its art milieu.