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Some painters who did not exhibit their work (or who were not selected to display their work) at the Bienal Intramericana de Pintura y Grabado [Inter-american Biennial of Painting and Printmaking] banded together and organized an exhibition that was clearly in direct competition with the INBA event. Held at the Galería Proteo at the same time as the Biennial, this show included work by artists of various nationalities and styles, such as Bartolí, Geles Cabrera, Leonora Carrington, Germán Cueto, Giménez Botel, Enrique Echeverría, Mathias Goeritz, Alfonso Michel, Nefero, Patric, Tamayo, Cordelia Urueta, Remedios Varo, Virgilio, Vlady, Héctor Xavier, Vela Zaneti, and Mrysol Worner Baz.


Indeed, the selection of the participating painters and printmakers in the Biennial had been somewhat unfair. Many young painters—to say nothing of the diversity of pictorial techniques at the time—were overlooked. Alberto Gironella (1929–1999) expressed his displeasure when he learned that foreign artists such as Antonio Souto and Antonio Rodríguez Luna would not be participating in the Biennial, and offered them the Galería Proteo to carry out the alternative show. Since 1952, Gironella had been part of an artistic cooperative with Vlady, Héctor Xavier, Enrique Echeverría, and Bartolí, opening the Galería Prisse soon afterward. This group of painters defined themselves as “independents.” Later, Gironella would open the doors of a new gallery, Galería Proteo (1953–63). Something that surprised the art milieu of the day was the fact that Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991) rejected the INBA’s invitation, even though he had been offered a special exhibition space. The surprise only grew when people found out that he was participating in the exhibition of the rechazaditos y descontentos [little rejected and unhappy ones].

Miguel Álvarez Acosta, director of the INBA (1954–58) and Miguel Salas Anzures, chair of the Department of Visual Arts (1957–1961) 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