Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

This letter by León Ferrari responds to the concepts raised by Ernesto Ramallo in the article “Los artistas argentinos en el Premio Di Tella 1965” [The Argentinean Artists in the Premio Di Tella 1965] published in the newspaper La Prensa [The Press], especially with respect to the link between art and politics. After clarifying his position regarding politics and the Vietnam War, Ferrari points out the intention of his work Civilizazión Occidental y Cristiana [Western andChristian Civilization] is to invent visual and critical symbols. Symbols that would allow for condemnation of Western barbarism, believing that if the work were not proper “art,” this would only change the [work’s] name but not its intention.

Annotations

The Premio Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [Torcuato Di Tella Institute Prize] was established in 1960, a few months after the creation of the Centro de Arte del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella [The Art Center at the Torcuato Di Tella Institute] (ITDT). The latter organization was run by a board composed of Lionello Venturi, Ricardo Camino, Guido Di Tella and Jorge Romero Brest. The Centro was dedicated to the dissemination and promotion of the visual arts as well as to maintaining contact with other centers linked to national and foreign production. The Premio ITDT was created within this framework with the intention of awarding opportunities to young Argentinean artists to enrich their experiences abroad. The Premio ITDT not only awarded prizes/scholarships, but also favored the dissemination of international art within the local scene. This made it an important institution for the renaissance of the visual arts at the time. The prize was awarded to both national and international artists until 1967, with a few variations according to the given year. In 1967 it became known as the Experiencias Visuales [Visual Practices]. Later, in 1968 and 1969 it became known solely as Experiencias [Practices]. In 1963 Romero Brest resigned as director of the Museo National de Bellas Artes [National Museum of Fine Arts] and accepted the position of director of the Centro de Artes Visuales of the ITDT.

In 1965, the Premio ITDT was both National and International in scope. The Jury members included the Italian critic Giulio Carlo Argan, who had replaced Lionello Venturi as the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella’s advisor, the British curator and critic Alan Bowness, as well as Romero Brest himself.

This article was selected because it documents León Ferrari'’s (1920–2013) response to the public debate begun by Ernesto Ramallo’s critique that rejected the artistic value of Ferrari’s work Civilización Occidental y Cristiana as well as the exhibition held at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella. It is important to note that the newspaper La Prensa did not publish his letter. Ferrari sent it to friends and it was published on October 7, 1965, in the weekly Propósitos [Intentions] edited by Leónidas Barletta.

Researcher
Cristina Rossi
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Alicia and León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Archivo Jorge Romero Brest, Instituto de Teoría e Historia del Arte Julio E. Payró, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires.