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León Ferrari'’s (1920–2013) letter responds to the concepts expressed by Ernesto Ramallo in the article "Los artistas argentinos en el Premio Di Tella 1965" [The Argentinean artists in the 1965 Di Tella Institute Prize] published in La Prensa daily, especially in regards to the art-politics nexus. After making it clear his position on politics and the Vietnam War, Ferrari points out the intention in his work, Civilización Occidental y Cristiana [Western and Christian Civilization], is to invent visual and critical signs that will let him condemn the barbarism of the West. Mainly considering the fact that if the work is not "art," it’s OK, only the name would change, but not the intention.


In 1960, a few months after the creation of the Centro de Arte del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (ITDT)—directed by a council composed of Lionello Venturi, Ricardo Camino, Guido Di Tella, and Jorge Romero Brest—the Premio Instituto Torcuato Di Tella was established. The purpose of this center was to help spread and promote the visual arts in order to maintain contact with other centers related to national and international production. Within this framework, the ITDT Prize was created with the intention of providing opportunities for young Argentineans, with the hope to enrich their background abroad. Nevertheless, its creation not only provided a prize-scholarship, but also favored the circulation of international art in the local media, turning itself into a key reference for the visual renovation of the times. Until 1967, this prize was given to national as well as international artists, with some variation according to the year. From that year on, it became Experiencias Visuales [The Visual Practices], and later only Experiencias, in 1968 and 1969. In 1963, Romero Brest had resigned as director of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and accepted the directorship at the Centro de Artes Visuales [the ITDT Center for the Visual Arts]. In 1965, the ITDT Prize became national and international, the jury being composed of Italian art critic Giulio Carlo Argan, who replaced Leonello Venturi as an adviser to the Institute, British art critic and curator Alan Bowness, and Romero Brest himself.

This source has been selected because it documents León Ferrari’s participation in the public discussion originated by Ernesto Ramallo’s critique (who had underestimated the artistic value of the artwork Civilización Occidental y Cristiana, as well as the exhibition within the scope of the ITDT). This publication responds to Ferrari’s will of circulating this information through other channels, given the fact that La Prensa newspaper refused to publish it. The text, then, witnesses the fact that the newspaper Propósitos, directed by Leónidas Barletta, paid attention to the artist’s request.

Cristina Rossi
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Courtesy of the Private Archives of Alicia and León Ferrari, Buenos Aires, Argentina
CeDinCI, Centro de Documentación e Investigación de la Cultura de Izquierdas en la Argentina.