Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

www.mfah.org Home

IcaadocsArchive

Document first page thumbnail
Editorial Categories [?]
Synopsis

The text praises the exhibition organized by Francisco Llobet at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art] with works by Jean-Louis Forain lend from Argentinean collections. Forain’s works are considered as real art, in comparison with those previously exhibited by Juan Del Prete and David Alfaro Siqueiros. 

Annotations

Having been expelled from the United States, David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) traveled to Montevideo in February of 1933, and by the end of May in that same year he had established himself in Buenos Aires. In the River Plate, Siqueiros experimented with technique and presented arguments based on the contents of his lecture Los vehículos de la pintura dialéctico-subversiva [The Vehicles of Dialectical-Subversive Painting], which he had developed while in the United States. In June he exhibited in Buenos Aires at Amigos del Arte [Friends of Art], a liberal and modernizing arts institution. He gave controversial lectures that polarized the arts field into the defenders of “arte puro” [“pure art”] and “arte político” [“political art”]. He was supported by Contra. La revista de los francotiradores [Against: The Snipers’ Magazine] run by the leftist writer Raúl González Tuñón. Siqueiros collaborated on the newspaper Crítica [Critique], run by Natalio Botana. Botana commissioned Siqueiros to paint a mural in the cellar of his house, Quinta Los Granados, in Don Torcuato, in the Province of Buenos Aires.

The Equipo Poligráfico Ejecutor [Lead Polygraphic Team]—formed by Siqueiros, Antonio Berni (1905–1981), Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896–1964), Juan Carlos Castagnino (1908–1972), and the Uruguyan set-designer Enrique Lázaro—created Ejericio Plástico [Visual Exercise], with distorted nudes over the curved surface of the vaulted ceiling, by means of photographic projection. It was conceived as a fresco on cement, using such technical innovations as application by mechanical tools and the use of industrial silicates. In December 1933, sketches and photographs of the mural were exhibited in the magazine Signo [Sign] premises. Currently the work is in storage due to litigation; damage may affect its conservation. At that time, Argentinean right-wingers strongly attacked the Mexican Communist painter in its publications Bandera Argentina [Argentinean Flag] and Crisol [Melting pot], which were representative of the Catholic nationalism that had gained momentum since the military coup of 1930. Bandera Argentina can be considered as a combat organism against communism, an ideology that is destructive and foreign to Argentinean culture, according to its guidelines. The nationalist sectors of the 1930s had defined Argentinean culture as an identity with a Hispanic, Catholic, and integral background.

The journalist—aiming to discredit local Modernist art (Juan Del Prete) as well as the negative influence of Siqueiros’s political art—praises the exhibition of the Asociación Amigos del Arte, organized by physician and French art collector Francisco Llobet (1882–1939), a member of the steering committee of that institution. This document is relevant to understanding that the opposition to nationalist culture included both the processes of formal modernization as well as political processes, so that its acceptance of modern art ended in Post-Impressionist variants—an aspect shared by individuals of the illustrated elite (and such is the case of Llobet). For the ideological stance against modern art carried out by Bandera Argentina, see document no. 769673.

Researcher
Roberto Amigo.
Team
Fundación Espigas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Location
Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, Argentina.