Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    El pintor Siqueiros : el debate de la pintura mural es el tema del día en el ambiente artístico
    Crítica (Buenos Aires, Argentina). -- No. 6877 (Jun. 12, 1933)
    p. 15
    Newspaper article – notes
    Crítica (Buenos Aires). "El pintor Siqueiros: el debate de la pintura mural es el tema del día en el ambiente artístico." no, 6877 (June 12, 1933).
Editorial Categories [?]

The chronicle shows the impact in the local media of the lectures on mural painting by David Alfaro Siqueiros, including discussions about the political function of art, the organization of artists, and mural painting. These lectures have created interest in visual art’s issues in society based on opinions of the Mexican artist's current artwork.


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 (1905-81), Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896-1964), Juan Carlos Castagnino (1908-72), 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. At that time, Argentinean right-wingers strongly attacked the Mexican Communist in 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 [see documents 733206, 734077, and 733182, among others].


This document is significant because it illustrates both the reception and impact of the lectures by Siqueiros in the art field of Buenos Aires, with polemical incidents in the Argentinean art milieu. Three lectures had been scheduled at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art]: "El renacimiento mexicano" ["The Mexican Renaissance"], "La pintura monumental moderna" ["Modern Monumental Painting"] (to which this document refers), and the program about the visual arts in future society held at Signo [Sign] magazine, due to its suspension at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art]. These lectures got started a debate on mural art, which had not been brought forth in Argentina up until then. 

Roberto Amigo
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires.