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Raquel Tibol interviewed Dr. Atl, who declared his total agreement with the organizers of the Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado [Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Printmaking], sponsored by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA). As soon as he received the invitation, he enthusiastically confirmed his participation, and stated that everyone involved was obliged to work in the interest of culture. Atl was not interested in politics, calling himself anti-Communist and anti-religious, though respectful of the ideologies of individuals, and he added that one of his best friends was Siqueiros. The journalist asked him to take a moment to clarify declarations he had made in favor of Nazism-fascism. Dr. Atl responded that they had been meaningless declarations, things that did not interest him at all; the only thing that did interest him, at that moment, was the conquest of space. He mentioned that, of late, he had been working on the nexus between the brain and the cosmos.


Gerardo Murillo [also known as Dr. Atl (1875-1964)] was extended a very special invitation to the First Biennial of Painting and Printmaking, since he had been one of the progenitors of the post-revolutionary artistic movement. Unlike Tamayo, he was quite happy about the international event that was to take place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes and that would bring together paintings by many creators from across the Americas. He believed that the objective was not to compete with other biennials, such as those of Venice or São Paulo, but it was a worthwhile venture to start such an exhibition. When he visited Bellas Artes, he was surprised by the new exhibition areas, and impressed by how well they looked; he even went so far as to say that this was the beginning of an innovative Mexican visual art museum. He was not pleased that Juan O'Gorman was to be part of the selection committee; though he considered O'Gorman an excellent painter, he felt however that he did not have cultural authority and surely had certain preferences. 

Miguel Álvarez Acosta, director of the INBA (1954-58) and Miguel Salas Anzures, chair of the Department of Visual Arts (1957-61) of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL) [National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature], were the organizers of the two biennials held at the Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas (at the Palacio de Bellas Artes). The first biennial, held from June 6 to September 30, 1958, consisted of four exhibition-tributes to José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), Diego Rivera (1886­­­­-1957), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974), and the Brazilian painter Candido Portinari (1903-1962). There was widespread discontent with this biennial, due to the organizing bodies and the involvement of the Frente Nacional de Artes Plásticas in the jury panel. 

At the second biennial, held in 1960, many artists, including José Luis Cuevas (born 1934), Francisco Icaza, and Arnold Belkin (1930-1992), among others, refused to participate in protest of Siqueiros's imprisonment at Lecumberri. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela were the countries that took part in both events. 

The official name of the biennial, and the one that was most commonly used, was "Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado" [Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Printmaking], though it was also known as the "Bienal de Artes Plásticas" [Visual Arts Biennial], "Bienal Panamericana de Pintura" [Pan American Painting Biennial], among other coinages.

Ana María Torres : CEPE, U.N.A.M. / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional