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Art critic Rosa Castro asked three respected Mexican artists for their opinions on the Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado [Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Printmaking]. Raúl Anguiano felt that the biennial was the most important event held in recent years and that it would be the foundation for future exhibitions. He also believed that the result of this event was positive given that it had disseminated art from all across the Americas. Anguiano regretted the fact that the biennial had not included foreign artists living in Mexico such as Arturo Souto, Enrique Climent, Antonio Rodríguez Luna, and Alice Rahon, among others. With regard to the rumor that the top prize would go to Francisco Goitia, Anguiano believed that his work belonged in a museum whose background was not for a contest. With a bit more thought, Anguiano believed, it would have been far more appropriate to offer Goitia a tribute. Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, in turn, declared that the biennial was "a pretentious bunch of rubbish" given that he had not participated thanks to a certain group at INBA [National Institute of Fine Arts] that controlled the biennial. Arturo Souza felt that the selections had been made hastily, and that the works exhibited were irregular and of dubious quality. Nevertheless, Souza said, some excellent choices were made as well.


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These Mexican artists manifested their disagreement with the way in which the first Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado had been organized. They complained that many Mexican artists, as well as foreign artists who had been residing for years in Mexico, were excluded from the mentioned event, and for this reason they felt that the country’s artistic movement was poorly represented. Arturo Souto believed that among the collection of Mexican paintings, not a single specimen was truly alive. According to Manuel Rodríguez Lozano (1896–1971), the control and monopoly that had begun to form in the milieu of Mexican painting was causing discord between artists and resulting in the shattering of the movement.

Manuel Álvarez Acosta, director of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes [INBA, National Institute of Fine Arts] during 1954–58, and Miguel Salas Anzures, head of the Visual Arts Department (1957–61) of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura INBAL), were the organizers of the two biennials which were held at the Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas (Palacio de Bellas Artes).

The first biennial (June 6 to September 30, 1958) was comprised of four exhibition-tributes dedicated to José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and the Brazilian artist Candido Portinari. There was a widespread feeling of disgruntlement with this biennial due to the organization of the event as well as the interference of the Frente Nacional de Artes Plásticas [National Front for Visual Arts] in the jury’ panel. On the occasion of the second biennial, held in 1960, many artists including José Luis Cuevas, Francisco Icaza, Arnold Belkin, and others did not participate in protest of the imprisonment of David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) at Lecumberri jail in Mexivo City.

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 most frequently used was “Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado” [Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Printmaking], though other coinages circulated as well, including “Bienal de Artes Plásticas” [Visual Arts Biennial], and “Bienal Panamericana de Pintura” [Pan-American Painting Biennial].

Ana María Torres: CEPE, U.N.A.M. / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico

Biblioteca Miguel Lerdo de Tejada de la Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público