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The XXV Venice Biennale was held in 1950. The event has been held every two years since the beginning of the twentieth century. The prizes were established by the Presidency of the Ministers’ Council: one for a foreign painter and another for an Italian artist, with a sum of one million lira for each one; another award was bestowed by the Venice County, one award of the same amount to an Italian painter and another for an Italian sculptor, and a final prize of 200 thousand lira awarded by the President of the Biennale, either for an Italian or foreign engraver. In addition to these awards, there were others established by other entities; among those was the fund of 500 thousand lira donated by the Museo de Arte Moderno de São Paulo, Brazil; this was the second prize for foreign painters. The jury, comprised of art critics, art historians and painters from various countries awarded the following prizes: first prizes were given to the French painter Henri Matisse and the Russian-French sculptor Ossip Zadkine. The prize for the Italian painter went to Carlo Carrà, and Marcello Mascherini and Luciano Minguzzi shared the prize for the Italian sculptor. The award for the Italian painter (established by the wealthy industrialist Giuseppe Verzocchi) went to Gino Severini; and the award established by the Museo de Arte Moderno de São Paulo of Brazil went to David Alfaro Siqueiros.


Mexico was invited for the first time to the XXV Venice Biennale (1950). In fact, its participation was of double importance for the visual arts of the era. Local newspapers published articles praising the Mexican exhibition. The jury bestowed the award of the Museo de Arte Moderno de São Paulo, Brazil on the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, through which Mexico was able to represent itself to the world with original art and its own identity. The most important prizes went to Henri Matisse and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974). The painters each represented one of two opposing trends of the era: abstract art and social realism.

Within the context of this artistic polarization infused with politics, Diego Rivera (1886-1957) did not propose a national event, but rather a leftist homage to Siqueiros, because through him Mexican realist painting of revolutionary socialist content had managed to deny a prize to the “art purists,” which in his judgment were serving the imperialist bourgeoisie. The prizewinner seized the opportunity to prove that this political and social trend was gaining importance in the art world and, as was his custom, Rivera promised to discredit any pictorial style that was not social realism, above all the proposals articulated by Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991).

The jury was composed by the commissioners Prof. Hoffman of Austria; Prof. Emilio Langui of Belgium, Prof. Leo Swanne, of Denmark; Prof. Abdel Kader Rizk, of Egypt; Prof. Raymond Cogniat, of France; Prof. Eberhard Hanfstaengl, of Bavaria; Sir Eric McLagan, of England; Minister Denis Devlin, of Ireland; Prof, Pedro Segedin, of Yugoslavia; Mr. Eça de Queiroz, of Portugal; Prof. Pérez Comendador, of Spain; Prof. Nils Lindhagen, of Sweden and Mr. Blailé, de Switzerland. In addition to these, the painter Giorgio Morandi and afterward Mr. Giovanni Ponti, General Commissioner of the Biennale, and the Secretary General, Prof. Rodolfo Palluchini also served on the jury.

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