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Both Jorge Juan Crespo de la Serna and Luis Cardoza y Aragón agreed that the deliberations of the International Jury’s Panel (which had established the parameters for awarding the prizes) for the Bienal Interamericana de Pintura y Grabado [Inter-American Biennial of Painting and Printmaking], had been carried out in a fair, equitable fashion. Though dissenting voices had made themselves heard, the atmosphere was characterized as both elevated and edifying. The first prize, instituted by the Secretaría de Educación Pública [SEP, Ministry of Public Education], was given to the painter Francisco Goitia for his work Tata Jesucristo [Grandpa Jesus Christ], executed in 1927. The award from the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes [INBA, National Institute of Fine Arts] went to Jack Levine. The Mexican press award, via the newspaper Novedades, was given to Raquel Corner. The Premio de la Nación [National Award], which was for a Mexican painter, went to Dr. Atl. The Premio de las Naciones [Award of the Nations], which was for a foreign artist, was granted to José Echave of Uruguay. The Premio Panamericano [Pan-American Award bestowed by UNAM] was given to Alberto Beltrán. The “José Guadalupe Posada” award went to Mauricio Lassans and, finally, the award granted by the Fine Arts Department was given to the Puerto Rican printmaker Carlos Raquel Rivera.  


The exhibition that took place in the Palacio de Bellas Artes [Palace of Fine Arts] revolved around four exhibition-tributes dedicated to José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), Diego Rivera (1886–1957), David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974), and Brazilian artist Candido Portinari (1903–1962). Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Atl), Juan O’Gorman, Jorge González Camarena, Francisco Goitia, Carlos Orozco Romero, Jesús Guerrero Galván, Guillermo Meza, Juan Soriano, Cordelia Urueta, Ricardo Martínez, Olga Costa, and many others participated in the Mexican competition. The foreign artists who participated in the biennial included Jack Levine, Stuart Davis, Joseph Albers, Mark Tobey, and Morris Graves, and the Abstract Expressionists Sam Francis, Philip Guston, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Adolf Gottlieb, Theodore Stamos, and Kenzo Okada.

The international jury’s panel was led by Miguel Salas Anzures as president, and its members were Amelia Peláez of Cuba, Hemult Hungerland of the United States, Luis Cardoza y Aragón of Guatemala, and, from Mexico, Justino Fernández, Jorge Juan Crespo de la Serna, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Leopoldo Méndez, and Antonio Rodríguez Luna. Though the exhibition included some examples of semi-figuration and abstraction, the awards clearly indicated that officialdom continued to support the turn-of-the-century realist trend. 

This turn of events provoked a considerable amount of reproaches and criticism; as in previous years, Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991) was not the only person in disagreement, so that his bickering was echoed by the critic Alvar Carrillo Gil; the painters Alberto Gironella, José Luis Cuevas, and Juan Soriano; and many others. By and large the biennial was poorly represented: many artists were not included, and the works that the participating artists sent for exhibit were not the best of their respective œuvres. Regarding the awards granted, it was mentioned that neither Goitia nor Dr. Atl should have entered the competition at all. Though non-objective or abstract painting was present, people certainly felt the absence of many painters that were part of this trend such as Venezuelan Alejandro Otero and Columbians Barrios Salvatierra and Alejandro Obregón. At the time there was confusion regarding the meaning of abstract art. Many painters and art critics believed that it was merely a pointless and dehumanizing proposition.

Ana María Torres : CEPE, U.N.A.M. / CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of El Colegio de Mexico. Authorized by Dr. Manuel Ordorica Mellado, Mexico City, Mexico
Instituto de Investigaciones Bibliográficas : Biblioteca Nacional/Hemeroteca Nacional